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Thread: Under the Same Sky- PG-15||A Chaptered Story

  1. #26
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    I'm starting to think you have a Chekhov's Gun fetish.

    Also, what is the Ice Beam symbolic of? Is it symbolic of the hax and RAAAGE that follows using it on a Garchomp?

    Also, I assume that the water in the opening sequence was only a dream forewarning Black of what is to become of him. The real Black is drowning in the cynical monster, the raging storm of hatred, that he is becoming.

    The only way you could have made this more obvious is if you had the part at the beginning describe how Ghetsis and N, while wearing masks of Black's face and slither up into his body through his anus, and then post a link to Sigmund Freud's Wikipedia page, linking to the section about his study of dreams.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draco Malfoy View Post
    Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb: I'm sure you can have a cynical tone, like how you could have a mischievous tone or miserable tone. Voices can convey bitterness and jaded attitudes in their inflections.
    *bitterly whispers to self* I was expecting that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draco Malfoy View Post
    I wanted to show that Cynthia herself wasn't some Madonna or perfect, serene woman. She's human too, with definite emotions; she just controls herself better due to experience. I thought it might be fun to see her lose her cool, even if it's only momentarily. =)
    Funny, I myself am writing a fic about how Cynthia is human, even though the fandom says otherwise. However, she gets her 'Mrs. Perfect' powers not only from experience, but because she allows Spiritomb to reside in her body, and has to pay for her perfection with the soul of a child or Pokemon.

    Unlike how you had her trade Gastrodon away, Spiritomb slowly destroys its mind and sucks the life out of it to show a younger Cynthia what would happen if she doesn't 'pay up'.

    Fic is in sig below. Part described has not been written yet. Criticism welcome.

    Shamelesss self-advertising ftw.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draco Malfoy View Post
    Scrafty is cool, but I'm sorry; you get to see much of him. I simply didn't have room or time to fit him into the story, like I could with Unfezant. Black's Pokemon team was created, simply because I had certain restraints I wanted to work within. For example, Black had to get an elemental monkey, since Cheren and Bianca both have one, and I wanted an Unova Water-type who could use Ice Beam, etc.
    Then I will hack your account and write a humorous scene in which Scrafty slaps some hos.

    Oh, I see now why you gave him the worst Pokemon in Unova. You know you could have given him a Jellicent and made him a hypocrite for douching all over Spiritomb? After all, he does dislike Ghost-types, and Jellicent does not at all look like a Ghost. Plus, it has a moustache.

    Who doesn't like moustaches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draco Malfoy View Post
    Black's not a douche, although he comes off that way sometimes. I wanted to show that he's still the kind guy that he used to be, underneath that prickly demeanour. The interactions with Susan and Unfezant should have hinted at that, along with the flashbacks which show a more innocent and idealistic Black, pre-N.
    I've noticed, that's the point of the story. Also, I like how you killed off Emboar. Alder warned him, after all, that it was supremely dangerous.

    I wonder what he chose (that doesn't suck, like everything else but Scrafty) to replace it?

    Good luck! I can't wait to see moar!

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    I'm starting to think you have a Chekhov's Gun fetish.
    Not a "fetish" per say. More of a "healthy enthusiasm". Every writer uses some of Chekhov's Gun, I reckon. It's part of Foreshadowing. =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    Also, what is the Ice Beam symbolic of? Is it symbolic of the hax and RAAAGE that follows using it on a Garchomp?
    Well, I used adjectives and adverbs such as "frigidly" to describe Black. Basically, it's the aggressive but isolationist attitude that the boy was employing against Cynthia.

    That, and the hax too. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    Also, I assume that the water in the opening sequence was only a dream forewarning Black of what is to become of him. The real Black is drowning in the cynical monster, the raging storm of hatred, that he is becoming.
    Interesting... I won't tell you if you have the right or wrong idea. Just wait until the end, and you'll find your answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    The only way you could have made this more obvious is if you had the part at the beginning describe how Ghetsis and N, while wearing masks of Black's face and slither up into his body through his anus, and then post a link to Sigmund Freud's Wikipedia page, linking to the section about his study of dreams.
    Perhaps.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    Oh, I see now why you gave him the worst Pokemon in Unova. You know you could have given him a Jellicent and made him a hypocrite for douching all over Spiritomb? After all, he does dislike Ghost-types, and Jellicent does not at all look like a Ghost. Plus, it has a moustache.

    Who doesn't like moustaches?
    I thought about Jellicent, but I ultimately decided against it for a few reasons. I know that I've made post-N Black pretty glum and prickly. However, I didn't want to make him unrelateable or unlikeable. The reader still had to care about the guy, enough to want to still continue with the story. Hypocrisy would have been the one thing that would have turned readers off Black, because he is, due to N's influence, so insistent on the truth.

    Black's honesty and ability to uphold himself to his word is one of the things that didn't change about him, and why he's still sympathetic, imo. If I changed that, I wouldn't make him a nice character to read about. He wouldn't be heroic enough.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    I've noticed, that's the point of the story. Also, I like how you killed off Emboar. Alder warned him, after all, that it was supremely dangerous.
    Exactly, and Black knows that he got adequate warning. It was partially his fault for idealistically befriending N, and there's the source of his self-loathing and bitterness: he blames himself for Emboar's death, when it's not something that anyone could have readily foreseen or blame on anyone in particular.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgeckledorf Spoongeblorb View Post
    I wonder what he chose (that doesn't suck, like everything else but Scrafty) to replace it?
    As already hinted a few times, Black is only carrying five Pokeballs for the time being. There's an empty notch in his belt, so he hasn't replaced Emboar yet. Granted, it's still a little painful for him, and he hasn't recovered from the trauma yet.

    Under the Same Sky - PG-15||Completed

    Memorandum to UtSS: "A Deathless Prelude".
    FF.net Profile//Quote-of-the-month: “History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace and revolution continue on forever.”

  3. #28
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    Here I am with the return review. This is probably the longest review in the history of the forums because it's more than ten thousand words and goes over the character limit so I have to post it in two parts. Yeah. That's how long my reviews can get. Be afraid.


    Overture

    Is it intentional that your scene dividers are missing one + sign?

    As I mentioned in my response to your review of Morphic, size tags aren't actually a flawless way of evading censoring because the skins have different font sizes; for me, one letter in all your swear words is showing up as bigger than the others and it looks weird. I've since that response been reminded that I'm at least pretty sure the default font in all the skins is Verdana, however, and one letter of Verdana in the middle of some other sans-serif font doesn't usually look that jarring anyway, so I'd suggest instead evading the censoring with "f[font=verdana]u[/font]ck".

    ****, for once, I agreed with Cheren.
    This is a bit grammatically dubious; I'd make the comma after "****" into a semicolon or a period, since it's an exclamation that portrays a separate thought of its own. I'm not sure I can properly explain why it seems to lose power to me as it stands, but it does.

    “Why?” she asks. “Why does it have to be like this?”

    Her voice is thick with phlegm and pity.

    “Champion? But what about Alder?”
    These paragraph breaks seem unnecessary to me; moreover, they're confusing, since they make it hard to tell that Bianca is still the one speaking the third line there. The speaker isn't changing and the subject isn't changing; there is no reason you ought to put "Her voice is thick with phlegm and pity" in its own paragraph, and when doing so is creating ambiguity, it's really better to just drop it.

    I don a smile; I don’t think it reaches the eyes.
    I feel this would sound more natural as "my eyes"; generally you don't think of your own body parts as "the" whatever.

    “The Elite Four?” She sighs. “My, my, have you grown.”

    I wonder what she’s doing with the computer.

    “I’m making modifications to the latest Pokedex – Prototype #B06.”

    She swivels around in her chair. “Do you want to volunteer for the beta model?”
    Same thing as above with that final paragraph break. Professor Juniper is still speaking; in fact, the last line is a direct continuation of what she's saying in the previous one, so the paragraph break (implying a change of topic) is outright inappropriate. While above you could excuse it with wanting to emphasize "Her voice is thick with phlegm and pity" by giving it a paragraph of its own, there is no such excuse here.

    I also felt the second line was a bit muddy. Generally, when a character's narration says "I wonder", it refers to a thought, but the fact the same verb can also be used as a speech verb to refer to wondering aloud, combined with the fact Professor Juniper's next line sounds like she's responding to him, suggest the interpretation that he actually asked her. The two possible interpretations make it confusing for the reader. As I read on I discovered that you're not giving Black any quoted dialogue in his first-person portions at all, which is a pretty clever nod to the fact he's a silent protagonist, but this one line of indirect dialogue here just feels random, especially when it's ambiguously worded so that the reader isn't actually sure he was speaking aloud at all. Try making the wording more explicit, e.g. "I wonder what she's doing with the computer and ask her."

    My mother is silent.

    Her voice sounds from the Xtransceiver.
    Well, that's a little self-contradictory; if she's silent, her voice can't also be sounding from the Xtransceiver. I realize you're trying to say that she's silent for a bit and then speaks, but because silence is a state rather than an action, saying his mother is silent doesn't in itself imply a duration, and without such an implication, the two sentences feel like they're supposed to be just about simultaneous. Portray the duration of the silence somehow; either show some actions with an implied duration between mentioning the silence and when she speaks (e.g. "My mother is silent, narrowing her eyes at me on the screen of the Xtransceiver as if trying to read something out of my expression"), or make the pause explicit (e.g. "My mother is silent for a few seconds" or "After a lengthy pause, her voice sounds from the Xtransceiver again").

    “Are you eating well?” Another question.

    She wrings her hands. “I can’t stand seeing you… like this.”
    Again this paragraph break in between two sentences said by the same character. This would make more sense if you properly shifted the focus away from her in between, like if you actually showed Black's nonreaction, but just his observation that it's "another question" isn't sufficient to make it feel like we're changing the subject enough to warrant a paragraph break.

    The Menger sponge was already on the floor.
    Random past tense in the middle of a present-tense passage. You may feel like because it's been on the floor for a bit it should be past tense, but "already" takes care of that; "is already" implies a state of being that's been going on for some time and still is, whereas "was already" would be used to imply the same only in past-tense narration.

    We’re both exhausted and about to faint, maybe.
    The "maybe" feels off to me. I think you only mean to imply that they might be about to faint, but it makes it sound as if he's also not sure if he's exhausted, which doesn't really make sense. I'd reword this to make it clearer he's only unsure about the fainting bit. Really, though, being merely unsure about it feels weirdly passive; shouldn't he be worrying he's about to faint, or feeling lightheaded, or something a little more personal than a flat prediction of what might happen in the future?

    And people ask me why Zekrom isn’t with me anymore?.
    The question mark doesn't belong. He's not asking a question; he's just referencing a question. If you quoted it directly, you'd retain the question mark (and not have a period), but here that's not the case.

    I’m on the seesaw, pushing myself on and off the ground. The seat opposite mine is vacant.
    You can't... really do that on a seesaw with nobody on the opposite side. Seesawing works because the kids on it are likely to be around the same weight so it's very close to being in balance, making it easy to kick off. If there isn't another kid on the other side, it's completely unbalanced and wouldn't go up at all, or if it did it would come down far too harshly for it to serve as idle entertainment. It's just like trying to jump from a sitting position.

    Because my family had only recently moved into town, none of the other children seem to want to talk to me.
    Because my family has only recently moved into town. Though this is happening in the past, you're telling it in present tense, and in that present, you'll want to use the present perfect rather than the past perfect to refer to recent happenings.

    “I’m Cheren,” the boy declares. “What’s your name?”

    I tell him.

    Cheren wrinkles his nose. “That’s your name? It sounds stupid.”

    I tell him that his face is stupid.

    “Your name is stupider,” replies Cheren, in a breezy way that only a seven year-old can muster. “I’m gonna call you something else.”
    I like this exchange; it's amusing and childish in the right way.

    “Whatever. If you like Black so much, that’s what I’ll call you.”
    Since he's still referring to the color black here, that "Black" shouldn't be capitalized.


    I expected the NOIR. and BLANCHE. to be an ongoing theme or otherwise relevant, but having finished the Overture and looked through the first chapter to find there aren't any more of them, I must say I still don't understand why they're there; they just seem like pretentious flourish, to be honest. Though marking Cheren's scene with NOIR and Bianca's with BLANCHE makes sense, in that it's connected to their names, it doesn't provide a reason why you would want the French words for the colors they're named after to precede snippets about them, and the designation of Juniper as NOIR and his mother as BLANCHE just seems completely arbitrary as far as I can see. There isn't any visible contrast between the NOIR and BLANCHE snippets or the like that seems to justify giving them special, separate, opposite markers. All the scenes are pretty similar; what do Cheren and Juniper's snippets have in common that's in any way opposite to Bianca and his mom's snippets? If I'm completely missing something, by all means say so, but they come across as meaningless and, as I said, kind of pretentious.

    Anyway, it's hard to tell much else at this point (several things that seem vaguely odd or awkward to me could make sense when I know Black's character better), so I'll just get right to chapter one.


    Chapter 1

    I'm going to read the whole chapter before I start to review this time; earlier I ended up typing out a bit of unnecessary puzzlement over the indirect dialogue in the Juniper snippet that could have been avoided if I'd already read the scene where it became clear what you were doing.

    ...

    Okay, so. Done reading. There were some recurring issues I noted that I'd like to address here so I won't have to quote every example.

    First, I have to say I don't find your third person nearly as readable or appealing as your first person. The first-person portions are to-the-point, with descriptions brief, flow mostly naturally and center around the protagonist's perception of things. The third-person main body of the chapter, however, often feels choppy, gives undue attention to irrelevant and uninteresting detail that doesn't really tell us anything, and uses a truly bizarre number of unnecessary similes seemingly just for the sake of similes.

    In particular, and this is a little ironic since you criticized my sentences as being too long (which I acknowledge), I actually feel that a lot of your sentences are too short. The choppiness I mentioned is largely because you often choose to write multiple sentences about facts that should be connected but, thanks to being split up that way, are made to feel disconnected; where a "while" or an "and" or a semicolon could combine facts into a single, more illuminating superfact, you like to just put a period in between them and leave it that way for the reader to make up these connections in their head. Even things that do work as separate sentences are structured or arranged in such a way that the narrative doesn't seem to flow so much as jump from sentence to sentence; there isn't a logical connection bridging adjacent sentences, or if there is, the reader has to spend a moment figuring it out.

    I'm making this sound a bit more dramatic than it is, but it really distracted me nonetheless. Let's look at an example:

    As he trudged through the lobby, Black heard the whispers and gasps of the people around him. A young waiter nearly knocked over the wine cooler. A mother of three tried to quieten her suddenly agitated children. Ignoring the pointed stares, Black stepped in front of the concierge’s desk.
    The young waiter and mother of three seem to appear randomly in the middle of your description of what Black is doing, and though we know that his arrival caused these two events, you don't really write them as if it did, resulting in this disconnected feel. Suddenly we just jump from Black to some waiter, and we can't start to make the connection until we get to the "knocked over the wine cooler" part. Likewise, we then jump to a mother but aren't sure where she comes in until we get to her children being agitated. Then somebody is ignoring pointed stares, and after the waiter and mother you brought in, this could just as well be a third observer, until you tell us it's Black. It takes a moment to piece together, and though it's a very short moment, it's distracting for the reader.

    This paragraph is also kind of weirdly structured; you start with Black, move on to the reactions to him, and then just go back to Black. Generally, the structure of a paragraph involves the first sentence introducing its subject and the rest of the paragraph discussing it, with the final sentence concluding the topic and leading into the subject of the next paragraph. Here, however, the final sentence of the paragraph just kind of undoes the middle by going back to Black continuing what he was doing as if nothing were more natural. Your first sentence introduces the subject of people staring and gasping when they see him nicely, but when the final sentence comes along it makes it seem like the subject of the paragraph is actually just Black walking across the lobby - which doesn't work either, because then the waiter and mother don't really belong in the paragraph in the first place. This is another recurring problem; you have quite a few odd paragraphs or paragraph breaks, not only within dialogue. I'll point them out below.

    Or at least this is as close as I can get to pinpointing why this paragraph feels so disjointed to me. I might personally write this as something like...

    As Black trudged through the lobby, he heard the whispers and gasps of the people around him. In the corner of the room, a young waiter looked up and nearly knocked over the wine cooler in shock; on his left, a mother of three tried to quieten her suddenly agitated children as they pointed at him, wide-eyed. Everyone had stopped where they were standing, giving him stares ranging from pointed to merely incredulous, except the concierge by the desk at the far end of the room, who was typing away at her computer and seemed not to have even noticed him coming in.

    Black ignored the stares, as he always did, and headed straight for the concierge's desk.
    ...but that's my writing style and not yours and I'm adding in detail (see comments on your description below) and my sentences are probably too long, so obviously I'm not expecting you to change it to this. Point is, as you wrote this in particular, it ended up choppy and I think I'm on to something with my theories above on why that might be.

    Another example:

    The woman was a household name. A breakfast cereal in Jubilife was designed in her honour. Black spoke without thinking: “Cynthia.”
    The breakfast cereal sentence just feels absurd and random there; I think it's because it makes the breakfast cereal the focus of its own sentence, as if the cereal is what's important, instead of making it feel like merely an illustration of Cynthia's fame. You could tie it better to the bit about her being a household name by phrasing it as something like "She'd even had a breakfast cereal in Jubilife designed in her honour", and personally I'd at least combine it with the previous sentence to make the breakfast cereal feel properly like an aside rather than something important.

    Another part of the reason for the choppy feel is how you write descriptions, which is my next issue. While you seem to take some care to describe what things look like, you tend to do so in a very flat manner; you just dully list off features one after another, usually taking up a whole sentence for each of them. Moreover, you often fail to include the actual potentially interesting details about what's going on. Let's look at some of the more egregious examples of both:

    Eventually, Black reached the end of the road. A series of buildings were clustered by a picket fence. He walked into the largest one.
    A tall figure stepped forward, allowing the moonlight to illuminate her body. She was a statuesque woman, with willowy legs and a generous bust. A black nightgown, verging on indecent and see-through, hugged her hips. Her long, blond hair cascaded downwards in rivulets, while grey eyes glinted with amusement. Pointed cheekbones, angled upwards. A silver ring, inset with an odd brown stone, twinkled from her middle finger. She stood akimbo, smiling slightly.
    One of these trinkets was a Silph espresso machine, which Cynthia approached and adjusted.
    The fire was rather weak in intensity, carefully controlled not to burn the boy. After another minute, Scrafty closed his mouth, and the flames self-extinguished.
    The next day began as usual for Black. He woke up at daybreak and, after yawning loudly, stretched his limbs to maintain his flexibility. He brushed his teeth using a cheap brand of toothpaste (‘Morning Budew with Extra Fresh™’), following with a wash in the nearest water source. In this case, that was the en-suite shower. The clothes for the day were the typical: fresh underwear, as his mother had always insisted, and the standard ***-shirt and cargo pants.
    A weedy teenager, older than Black, stood on the other side. He was gawky and gangly, as though he had grown too quickly in too short a period of time. A few pimples dashed across his nose. Braces complemented a narrow face, which showed a wispy attempt at a five o’clock shadow. The feather-shaped logo on the teenager’s shirt was telling: ‘RUFFLET PIZZA: 24/7 Service. Wherever, Whenever.’
    All these descriptions and more feel rather choppy and dull, largely thanks to your choice of details to spend whole sentences on. A sentence is like a unit of storytelling: each sentence should tell the reader something, or it really ought to be gotten rid of one way or another. When you write sentences like "A series of buildings were clustered by a picket fence," this doesn't tell the reader anything interesting. We don't care about the series of buildings or the fence. You could make a meaningful sentence out of it if Black were to muse on it in some interesting manner or something, but as it stands it's extraneous and trivial and we don't know why you brought it up in the first place if you weren't going to say anything of interest about it. The description of Cynthia may include details Black would reasonably be paying attention to, but it's too long, specifically too many sentences: each one says so little of real interest that the passage as a whole becomes too long and awfully uninteresting. This description would be better partly condensed into one or two sentences and partly snuck into later sentences in which something is happening.

    Then the espresso machine just doesn't matter; if she uses it to make coffee, write one sentence about Cynthia making coffee and mention the espresso machine there if you feel it necessary instead of bringing it up separately as if we should care about the machine. If the POV character is having a Fire attack used on him to dry himself, surely the focal point of the description should be how it feels - the flames are only comfortably warm, tickling him, etc. - rather than how it's "rather weak in intensity" or precisely how long it takes. There is just no reason anyone should ever care what brand of toothpaste Black uses, what he uses to wash himself or what underwear he puts on. And the pizza boy is an incidental character who is there for one minute; he should not have five sentences devoted to detailing his appearance.

    Detail is good, but only relevant detail. If it doesn't tell us something interesting, it's a waste of our time. I'd highly recommend checking out this old post by Negrek, which is the best description advice I've read - it pertains specifically to describing Pokémon, but the same basic principles apply to all other description.

    Finally, similes. I understand you want to use evocative language; however, many of your similes just don't make sense or seem bizarre; rather than helping to illustrate what's going on, the images you evoke are often strange, unfitting or just kind of ridiculous. Some samples:

    Black didn’t miss the franticness in the man’s voice. It was dark and glossy, like a prowling Luxray.
    Describing somebody's franticness (or a frantic voice) as being like a Luxray doesn't seem to make any sense whatsoever; if anything it feels like an oxymoron, since Luxray is a lion, associated with courage and strength. And what does it even mean to say somebody's franticness is "dark and glossy"? It might convey some image about a voice, but it's certainly not a frantic one; on the contrary, it evokes something smooth and cool.

    A spiralling, burnished staircase and a darkened marble floor greeted him, like a groomed butler.
    The floor can't greet you like a butler, because a butler greets you by actually greeting you, not in the metaphorical sense in which a floor or staircase might 'greet' you as you walk into a house. I guess what you were trying to evoke here was something of a feeling of refined classiness, which does somewhat get across, but only beneath a thick layer of "bzuh?" over the implication the floor can talk. A better way to make that point would be to have Black note, on seeing the lavishness of the place, that he half-expects to see a butler there to complement the image, or something like that.

    His face became as red as the tomato paste which had been slathered over Cynthia’s pizza.
    I fail to see how on earth likening his face to the pizza sauce is meant to help us picture his flusteredness better; the simile is distracting rather than illustrative, especially since now I'm picturing him with pizza sauce all over his face. It would work in a humour piece, I suppose, but not here.

    Not all your similes are this jarring; some work pretty nicely, actually. Just be a bit more conservative with them and ask yourself every time you want to put one in, "Is this going to help the reader picture what's going on better?"

    Anyway, that's all for these general complaints. I haven't named every example, only some of the clearest. I won't bother mentioning these issues again in the later chapters unless I find some example particularly worth commenting on.

    Now, on to another read-through for specific quotes.

    A boy, aged fifteen.
    You probably know that this is not a complete sentence and did it intentionally, but it just bugs me for some reason; maybe it's the shortness of the sentences here.

    “I would like to rent a villa,” said Black.

    “There are no villas available today. You will have to find alternative accommodation.”

    “I don’t think that’s an option,” said Black brightly.

    Bored, the concierge typed into her computer. “I’m sorry, sir, but we have no more rooms. You’ll have to wait like everyone else. No exceptions.”

    “I think you can make an exception with me.”
    This bothers me a little because it makes Black's character feel inconsistent to me - in all the rest of his scenes, he seems to hate the idea of being the Champion (later in this very conversation, he tells her "I've done nothing worth noting"), and yet here he sounds almost cocky about it. "Don't want to rent me a villa? Well, that's not an option. Look at me. I'm the ****ing Unova Champion. You should bow to my every whim." It just doesn't seem like something the same character would say. Maybe with more insight into his character this will make more sense, but I feel like I've gotten a pretty decent grasp on him by now, since I've read the whole chapter already, and this is the only part that's at odds with it.

    A young tanned face emerged in the light. A face that had been sandblasted across billboards and television screens.
    Sandblasted? o_O Also, again, the latter sentence here isn't a full sentence and again it jars me rather than working for the effect.

    The copious cakes of makeup could not hide the deep, red flush in her starstruck face. Immediately, Black was reminded of that beret-wearing girl from Altomare City.
    I can't for the life of me figure out the relevance of Altomare-Bianca here. Is there a reason you brought her up?

    She waited for the tone, before speaking.
    The comma is unnecessary.

    “Hello, Ma’am? I’m sorry for intruding upon your evening, but we have another client who wishes to share your villa. I understand that Lady Caitlin herself had rented you the villa, but Undella’s policy states that – ”
    I'm really not sure I buy this. If this is Caitlin's personal villa that she has the authority to rent out to people on her own, how can the resort management just plant some other guy there? Of all the villas in town, this is the last one they should try to put him in. I realize you need Black to end up in the same villa as Cynthia for your plot to work, but as it is this doesn't seem very believable.

    The Minun’s Trainer, a mousy haired girl
    Since the "mousy" is modifying the hair rather than the girl, this should be "mousy-haired".

    Black was familiar with it; he had witnessed it glisten in the eyes of far lesser men.

    Fear.
    This seems a little overdramatic. For one thing, "far lesser men"? He doesn't know this guy; what reason does he have to think he is particularly great? For another, saying Black is familiar with fear is kind of ridiculous; everyone is familiar with fear because it's pretty much the most basic emotion humans have. If it was a particular type of fear, or if you implied instead that Black was familiar with seeing people look at him with fear, it would work, but here you're just saying he's familiar with fear in general and it seems bizarre.

    The paragraph break right after this part is pretty jarring because you jump with no transition whatsoever from dramatically talking about how Black has seen fear glistening in the eyes of far lesser men and to him walking out and finding the villa as if nothing were more natural. Remember when I talked about the structure of paragraphs above? Although a paragraph break represents a change of topic, there has to be a logical progression between the different paragraphs. If you don't lead from the topic of one paragraph to the one after it in any way, the reader will feel like they missed something in between.

    Black remembered the first time he met Caitlin. Dressed in a white sundress, she was the epitome of grace and chastity. He didn’t like her from the start.
    This is weirdly worded, because "she was the epitome of grace and chastity" is a positive description; for him to describe her like that and then immediately move on to saying he didn't like her from the start feels contradictory. If he feels contempt for the "grace and chastity" thing, he's more likely to think of her as a pretentious prude or something, or at least to inject some kind of irony or scorn as he describes her that way. If he did respect the grace and chastity thing but grew to dislike her after the "dim-witted little boy" comment, then you shouldn't say he didn't like her from the start right after the "epitome of grace and chastity" part.

    What was the phrase she used again? “dim-witted little boy”.
    Even when quoting the phrase, it doesn't retain its noncapitalization if it's placed at the beginning of a sentence, so capitalize the D.

    The only thing bigger than his dreams was his toothy smile. His first Pokémon, a pig with orange fur brighter than the sun, liked his smile the most. Not even the tastiest Poffin could elicit from Tepig a squeal of delight more than his toothy grin.
    Really dislike this passage. "Toothy" doesn't seem like the most appropriate modifier to put on the smile to begin with (to me it seems to imply insincerity or cheek, as if it's trying to show teeth), but then you repeat it which makes it feel even more awkward. Then the "orange fur brighter than the sun" thing is such drastic hyperbole that it seems really silly, not to mention that Tepig's color is about as irrelevant here as it can get. And then the whole thing is just clunkily worded, really. "His first Pokémon liked his smile the most"? What, there's a competition for who likes Black's smile most? Is whether others liked his smile more actually relevant? And even so, though liking somebody's smile is perfectly sensible, squealing in delight when you see it seems a little drastic, especially when this is compared to tasty food as if a smile is something to be eaten (aaaand now I have some very strange images in my head). You should really reword this whole bit. It kind of wrecks a paragraph that could be pretty impactful.

    However, that was back in the old days, when Black’s grin was genuine. Sure, the motions were the same: the dimples still curled at the edges, and his teeth still shone through.

    But the joy wasn’t there.
    A much better passage, but the paragraph break here seems misplaced, especially since the paragraph after this doesn't continue from "But the joy wasn't there". If I were you I'd take this whole bit (i.e. from "However, that was back in the old days...") and make it into a paragraph of its own while ditching the break before "But the joy wasn't there".

    Instantly, his hand snapped to his Pokébelt.
    Is it actually called a Pokébelt? It's not unreasonable or anything, but the unfamiliar Poké- term makes this sentence a little jarring and you'd probably be better off without it. If this is a canon term and I'm just ignorant, never mind.

    Abruptly, the clicking of heels brought Black out of his thoughts. Instantly, his hand snapped to his Pokébelt. He skimmed across each of the five capsules. Unfezant would provide the quickest attack, flying like a bullet to rip out a throat. Scrafty and Simisage could break the assailant’s bones, while Carracosta would create enough Rock Slides to disinter the villa’s underbelly. Even Beheeyem would be more than surfeit: two silent Psybeams would neutralise any threat. Avoiding the empty sixth slot, Black tried to make his final decision. He had two seconds to pick, before the other person would utilise her chance to attack him first –
    I hope it's very intentional here that Black is being absurdly paranoid - this is not just a little knee-jerk what-is-that-sneaking-up-on-me but a full-blown search for ways to brutally murder a person he has no reason to be suspicious of (especially since he already knows there is somebody else going to be sharing the villa with him, which shouldn't slip his mind for more than a second). I'm all for characters who aren't quite sane, and I find this pretty intriguing (what could have happened on his journey to make him this way?), but because Black doesn't come across as even a little paranoid anywhere else in the chapter, I'm not quite sure that's what you were actually going for, and if you weren't, this passage really, really needs to be changed to make him seem less psychotic.

    I do like, however, that here just after noting that his starter was a Tepig, you have him recounting his team, not mentioning any evolution of Tepig and avoiding one Pokéball as being empty. It's appropriately subtle and builds intrigue nicely, plus it says something about Black that he's avoiding even thinking of what used to be in that sixth ball.

    She yawned and stretched her arms, causing the robe to open slightly at the chest. Black reddened at the glimpse of soft, pink skin.
    Initially this seems a little random, but seeing as later Cynthia is suspiciously eager to take his clothes off, I'm assuming she did that deliberately and just likes seducing teenage boys. You could reword it to add some hint that she didn't just happen to stretch that way, but eh, it works.

    “And I am not needed in Sinnoh anymore. My duties as a former Champion have been delegated,” she explained gently.

    Smoothly, Cynthia gestured at him. “I have some coffee in the kitchen. You’re more than welcome to join me.”
    Another one of those paragraph breaks in the middle of the same character's dialogue. Though just removing the paragraph break would make it a little awkward thanks to ending one sentence with "gently" and beginning the next with "smoothly"; I'd remove one of the adverbs, too.

    So, this was the person with whom he was sharing a villa? In all honesty, Black was apprehensive. Champion Cynthia was many things, but predictable wasn’t one of them. Indeed, Cynthia had frustrated the Sinnoh officials with her sporadic and random stopovers at interesting historical sites, throwing her schedule into disarray. Once, she had disappeared for four days, forcing Lucian to substitute for her as Champion. The press was in an uproar. Where was she for half a week? Visiting the Solaceon Ruins, because the “glyphs intrigued her”. Living with her was bound to be a challenge.
    I like this anecdote; though your Cynthia doesn't feel quite like game!Cynthia to me, this is something she does in the games that fits very well with your loopy reinterpretation. I also just like that everybody's in an uproar because she's deserted her post. Though this does open up the question of why nobody minds that Black is somewhere in a villa in Undella Town.

    “Scrafty, I’m a little wet from the rain,” he said.

    He leaned towards the Pokémon, giving a small smile. “Could you help me?”
    Another one of those unnecessary paragraph breaks.

    Cynthia finished her coffee and set down the mug in the sink. “You must be a talented and powerful Trainer. As expected from the Hero of Unova.”

    Black nearly dropped his cup.
    Dropping your cup seems like a surprised reaction, which is rather strange here since he is world-famous and all and most people would know he's the Hero of Unova. Later his grip tightens on the cup, which seems more appropriate to somebody who just doesn't want to be reminded of it.

    “One medium pizza for a Miss Chard?” said the scraggy teenager. He read off a piece of paper. “Vegan special, but with anchovies, kidney beans, and extra feta. No shallots and no beetroot.”
    That can't be a vegan special, since you specify that it's extra feta (implying there is some feta on it by default). A vegan pizza couldn't have feta, or any cheese at all for that matter, because vegans don't eat dairy products. It's not a synonym for "vegetarian".

    Cynthia picked up a napkin and scribbled something on it, flourishing the pen in wide strokes. Black thought that she was making a small spectacle out of it, as though she was conducting a ceremony of sorts.
    I like this detail. Again, though I can't get your Cynthia to feel like the one from the games in my head, she does have a definitive sense of character of her own that's quite fun.

    “Good morning, did you sleep well?” she asked.
    This is a comma splice. Since "Good morning" and "Did you sleep well?" are both complete sentences, you can't join them together with just a comma. ("Good morning" technically doesn't have a verb in it, but it's a common enough phrase to feel like a full sentence to the reader.) A period would feel more natural.

    I'm a bit weirded out that Black doesn't actually ask before just grabbing a slice of Cynthia's pizza. I could chalk it up to the same dissociation from society that's made him so paranoid, but that just leaves open the question of why Cynthia didn't make any comment on it. I can't help suspecting you just forgot to include some manner of obtaining permission, but do correct me if I'm wrong.

    or “Moomoo Milk is a great aphrodisiac!”
    Pffft. Got a snort out of me.

    At this point, he was hungry enough to eat raw Krokoodile
    It's spelled Krookodile, as in "crook".

    “I managed,” Black stated.
    "Stated" is not a word to just randomly replace "said" with; it sounds really stilted and overly formal in a context like this. Just use "said" unless the line is being said in a way that really calls for a different word.

    “When I was starting out as a Trainer, I missed my grandmother terribly,” said Cynthia, sprinkling a few more olives on her pizza.

    She gave a low, throaty laugh. “I couldn’t wait to arrive at the next PokéCenter so that I could use the video-phone to call her. If the booth was already occupied, sometimes I would cry until the person let me go ahead of him.”
    Lose that paragraph break.

    “That sounds a little – ” Black tried to sound polite. “needy.”
    I have actually heard conflicting information about how something like this should be punctuated, but at the very least you need a dash on the other side, too, as in “That sounds a little –” Black tried to sound polite. “– needy.” Though I think I'd actually use ellipses here rather than dashes, again on both sides.

    I was visiting the famous library to research Gible’s evolutionary cycle.
    ...cycle? It's hardly appropriate to refer to a process that's decidedly not cyclic as a "cycle".

    “You challenged him to a Pokémon Battle,” Black speculated.
    Don't capitalize "battle". Not even the games capitalize that.

    “And the Bronzor was fine. But as a result of this ordeal, the Bronzor’s Trainer and I became close,” Cynthia elaborated.
    She isn't really elaborating on anything, is she? Elaborating is giving additional detail about something, but she's just answering a question and adding new information, not details of what she already said.

    Reaching for her purse, Cynthia pulled something out and showed it to Black. It was a faded photograph, blotched with coffee spills and crinkles from excess handling. A younger Cynthia was leaning over a leering Gabite and an unidentifiable, pink-skinned slug, whose visage on the photo was smudged out. If Black didn’t know any better, he would say that the latter Pokémon had been crossed out with a permanent marker – and then scrubbed at a much later date, in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the obscuring ink. Strange.
    Intriguing. Overall I think one of your strengths here is that you really do make the reader curious, both about Black and about Cynthia, in a fairly quiet, understated way, which I'm pretty sure is exactly what you were going for with this chapter, so I'd call you successful there.

    “What about your own friends?” Cynthia asked, breaking him out of his stupor.
    Stupor? Seems a bit over-the-top to call it that.

    When Caitlin and Grimsley approach me, I’m sitting in the top most tower of the Pokémon League.
    "Topmost" is one word.

    From my vantage point, I could see the bulldozers and construction cranes rumbling around the wreckage.
    Random past tense; this should be "I can see the bulldozers".

    Judging from their confused chain of command, the construction crews probably barely understood each other.
    Again; should be "barely understand each other".

    “We need to talk,” said Caitlin.
    Says.

    “Please stop blathering,” she replied, in a sleek but waspish voice.
    Replies.

    I actually really like "Please stop blathering" here. However, I have to say can't possibly imagine what on earth a "sleek but waspish" voice is.

    So, I'm finally done with this chapter.

    The good parts so far: I like how you've slowly built intrigue around these characters and what went on in their pasts. I enjoy character-based fiction and if you deliver the answers to these mysteries in a satisfying way, this could be very enjoyable. I like your Cynthia, who combines being nice, polite, serene, intelligent and a little eccentric with things that are just-off enough to be a little bit creepy, pricking at the edge of my perception of her without just freaking me out. Black has the potential to be interesting as well. And for one reason or another, something intrigues me about the glimpses we've caught of the Unova Elite Four and their cold, resentful relationship with Black.

    The bad is mostly, in my opinion, your third-person writing style, which feels stilted or disjointed a lot of the time for the reasons I tried my best to explain above and perhaps more I haven't pinpointed. The style is making it a little hard for me to get properly absorbed, which is unfortunate because stylistic deficiencies are also some of the most difficult to pinpoint, explain and fix. I'm presuming your style is going to remain the same in the following chapters, but unless reading them gives me further insight into exactly what is bugging me about it, I'll refrain from commenting on the general stylistic issues on the assumption that whatever I might have managed to teach you about it by now has already gotten across.


    Continued in the next post.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 2nd August 2011 at 4:08 PM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  4. #29
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    Okay. Next chapter. Let's hope this doesn't end up as long.


    Chapter 2

    The fatass passes me a vanilla folder.
    I'm pretty sure you mean "manila" there.

    I really don't get why you're italicizing attack names. Is there a reason you didn't just write them normally? It's kind of distracting and annoying; it feels like the narrator is randomly emphasizing them.

    Orange flecks of light overlay the violet glow, like the afterimage from a camera flash.
    Pretty sure that should be "overlaid", since "overlay" is the present tense.

    That being said, I'm kind of lost in the simile here; an afterimage from a camera flash does not look like orange flecks of light overlaying anything to me. It's kind of like an area of blindingness in my field of vision, whereas "orange flecks" makes me think of multiple small patches that are orange. Eh, maybe you see this differently than I do.

    Trainers Academy
    Should be either Trainer's Academy or Trainers' Academy, depending on whether this is intended as singular or plural. Or just Trainer Academy.

    Hour after hour, like a predatory Warrgle and its Wurmple prey.
    Warrgle? Its English name is Braviary, and even if you were using the Japanese name for some strange reason, there's no reason to spell it with two R's.

    Black fished out a peculiar, chess-black machine
    Chess-black? o_O Is that a word?

    “It’s called a Pokedex – Pokémon Encyclopaedic Index,” said Black, as he scrolled up the machine’s screen.
    Lose the comma before the "as"; you don't place a comma before something like "as". Also, "Pokédex" has an é.

    Her eyes widened upon inspection:
    I'm not sure if this is just me, but this sentence seems to me to mean her eyes widened when they were inspected, i.e. the eyes. Maybe reword this.

    “So you don’t need to worry.” Black calmly told the girl, who blew her nose on the handkerchief.
    The quote should end with a comma, since "Black calmly told the girl" is continuing the sentence.

    "Type" is another word I'm pretty sure is not capitalized in the games that you capitalize for some reason.

    “Y-Your Pokémon are amazing. Unfezant had a Type disadvantage, yet it trounced Maggy completely,” Susan said in wonder.

    She looked down, blushing. “I-I shouldn’t have pressured you so much into battling me. Magcargo had reached a winning streak, and I got arrogant.”
    Unneeded paragraph break again.

    “I wanted to fight you when I heard you defeated my brother,” Susan said, brushing dust off her expensive, Celadon blouse.
    Unless it's a blouse from Celadon City that's somehow recognizable as such, that shouldn't be capitalized.

    “My mother and I were there in Sunyshore when Volkner challenged you,” said Susan breathlessly. “You’re a role model to female Trainers all around the world. The Sunyshore Exhibition Match of ’06! The way you finished that Raichu was ingenious.”

    Susan clapped her hands; the Silcoon-silk gloves rustled together. “You’re an incredible Champion. My favourite, actually. ”
    Extraneous space before the final closing quote, and another one of those pesky extra paragraph breaks within dialogue.

    In a flare of white, a tall hare with strong hindlegs and floppy ears manifested.
    "Hind legs" is two words and can't be one as far as I know.

    When Shauntal reels back, the official in the laundered clothes glanced at me.
    Glances.

    “Long enough,” she admitted, finally.

    Placidly, she brushed back her blond bangs. “I liked your use of Lucky Chant. It was very inspired.”
    Another bad paragraph break.

    “Why are you so nice?” he demanded.

    “Pardon?”

    “Why are you so nice to me?” Black repeated, warily. “Not just me, but to other people as well.”
    I rather like this since it's picking up on Black's paranoia issue.

    “You know!” Black gestured, frustrated. Cynthia’s Garchomp snarled protectively when he drew closer to the inexpressive blond woman. “Like that girl and the deliveryman from yesterday.

    “Why? You’ve never met them before, you’ve never met me before. Yet you sign autographs and talk as though you’ve known us for years. We’re total strangers. The truth is that we have different ideas and incompatible beliefs. We don’t share yours.”
    While this paragraph break isn't as wrong as those other dialogue ones since it's still obvious Black is speaking, I don't understand why it's there. There isn't a change of topic, and neither paragraph is even that long.

    I'm quite enjoying their interactions here; Black's irrational anger and hostility at Cynthia's niceness and optimism is pretty interesting while her cool perceptiveness plays well off him.

    A summer breeze drifted through the evergreen ferns which arrayed in the vicinity. Luxuriant, the leaves rustled, as Dwebble and Crustle scurried into the loamy sand. A Wingull glided through the sky’s crisp canvas, like a white paintbrush. Nestled under the exuberant sun, a row of cerise flowers swayed, secreting a faint aroma of honeyed freesias. Despite his situation, Black had to acknowledge the natural serenity of Undella Town. Cynthia appeared to be breathing in these beautiful surroundings, instead of responding to his anger.
    This description just feels kind of random and rather kills the mood, though, I'm afraid. While Cynthia is gazing into the environment, Black seems a little too angry to have this description happening in what is ultimately his POV.

    “That does not diminish the sentiment any less.”
    That's a type of double negative, and the way you characterize Cynthia seems like she wouldn't make that kind of mistake, so I'm going to assume that was unintentional.

    Trembling, Black asked almost inaudibly. “When did you talk to my friends?”
    Being that "asked" is a speech verb, you should have a comma there before the quote.

    “These flowers remind me of a spring blossom from Sinnoh,” said Cynthia offhandedly.

    She lifted the bouquet to her nose. “They’re called ‘Gratia’ or ‘Kansha no Hana’ in a few of the Ancient Languages. Nowadays we call them Glacideas.”
    Lose the paragraph break. Also, it's "Gracidea" in English.

    They bloom only every few years, and only under a certain angle of moonlight.
    Moonlight? Isn't the whole point of Gracideas that they don't do anything except in the day?

    a ‘80s Lifetime Original
    That's a bit too much of a real-life reference for my taste. Why do they have Lifetime in the Pokémon world? (For that matter, being from Iceland, I wouldn't have the faintest clue what this was supposed to mean if I hadn't browsed TV Tropes way too much; it's not as if Lifetime is a universal real-world phenomenon, either.)

    Grey orbs met amber.
    Referring to eyes as 'orbs' is an infamous staple of bad writing. Reword this if you want to be taken seriously.

    “Do you wonder why the Floaroma Pokémon is called the Spirit of Gratitude?”

    Her eyes flashed. “It is because the Pokémon’s gift was not requested, yet freely given. Because that gift to humanity was the Pokémon’s only way of expressing the joy it felt upon seeing those blossomed Glacideas.”
    Paragraph break yet again.

    “Gratitude is like the Glacidea flower: it’s something so delicate and ephemeral, blossoming under exceptional circumstances, only to fade too quickly,” Cynthia ruminated.

    Radiantly, she smiled. “But however rare, it is breathtaking… Can you truly hate something that is this beautiful?”
    Ruminated? Really? The word 'said' doesn't bite. Also, paragraph break.

    “Even the harshest truths need the lens of idealism to mellow it,” she said earnestly. “Just as ideals have to tempered with a rational view of reality. Yin and Yang. Balance for balance.”
    You probably want "to mellow them" since "truths" is plural, and I think you're missing a word there in "Just as ideals have to tempered..."

    “You spout neo-philosophical ****,” retorted Black.
    I like this conversation, what with the fact he can be blunt and call her out and so can she.

    “I choose to leave my position when the Board approached me,” says Alder, solemnly, “Because I realised that I needed to undo my mistakes.”
    Because the second bit in quotes is a continuation of the same sentence as the first bit, the "because" should not be capitalized.

    “I saw what Reshiram’s boy did to you in that castle,” he says.

    His black eyes flash. “I promise you, I will catch him.”
    Paragraph break.

    She opened a tub of mixed nuts, added a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, and topped off the infernal mixture with extra-salty Slateport fish sauce.
    Eww. No matter what Black says, you will not convince me that this isn't absolutely repulsive.

    Referring to the speedo as a "material" feels rather overblown as a way to avoid showing the reader immediately that it's a speedo.

    Cynthia’s Garchomp thought it would be hilarious to practice Fire Fang on some of his belongings.
    Since the main body of the story is past tense and this is the past of the story, that should be "had thought".

    I don't think the repetition of "actually smiling" is working there at the end. Just "I smile" in the first-person bit would retain the meaning and feel less awkward.

    I found this chapter somewhat better written than the first, but it wasn't without that disjointed feel and overdone descriptions. The character interactions are still pretty fun to read, though the story is slow-paced.


    Chapter 3

    “You can hear Tepig?!” I exclaim, as I nearly jump on N. “What is he saying? Do Pokémon actually talk?!”
    Well, that... really doesn't sound anything like Black. That's not excited; that's hyperactive and a character shouldn't act like that unless the intention is to make them seem extremely loud and overexcited. Even though Black has changed, if seeing Ghetsis talk about Pokémon liberation just makes him mutter "********" under his breath, then hearing N say his Tepig was saying something should not make him flail around going "WHAT DO POKÉMON ACTUALLY TALK REALLY?"

    Buy a Snow Cone without offering Cynthia one, head-butt.
    Why are you capitalizing "snow cone"? (I also think that's one word.)

    Black knew under no uncertain terms, that Garchomp hated him.
    You don't need to put a comma before "that" unless something else calls for it, e.g. if you'd also put a comma after "knew" to set that whole phrase off. (Isn't it "in no uncertain terms", though? Or am I just confused?)

    whom she had named anonymous whilst describing in some detail
    You can't name someone anonymous; the whole point of anonymity is that you don't name them.

    Draconian nostrils flared, like a spinning fire.
    This simile really doesn't do it for me. What does spinning have to do with it? And saying something is flaring like fire just seems kind of redundant.

    “He likes the fresh air,” she replied. “He has always been a bit more squeamish than my other Pokémon.”

    Cynthia lifted her sunglasses. “Why? Do you not like Garchomp. He definitely likes you.”
    Okay, I think I'm just going to stop bothering to point out these paragraph breaks now. You get the idea: if the same character is still speaking, even if they perform some kind of action in between, there generally should not be a paragraph break.

    Also, "Do you not like Garchomp" is a question, so it should end in a question mark.

    the concentric, Bronzor patterns
    A good rule of thumb for whether you should put commas between descriptive words is to replace the comma with "and" and see if it sounds odd. Here, you'd never say the patterns were "concentric and Bronzor"; heck, Bronzor isn't actually an adjective. Thus, there shouldn't be a comma there.

    Supple white skin greeted the summer sun, as Black’s eyes met that significant cleavage.
    Again, "as" doesn't need a comma before it, so unless there's something else calling for it (which there isn't here), don't have one.

    Not a black, near transparent two-piece.
    Since "near-transparent" is a single phrase here, you should probably hyphenate it.

    His voice cooled, like an Arctic snap.
    Eh?

    Five minutes later, we were sharing a Casteliacone with hot Chocolate Fudge.
    Casteliacone being capitalized makes sense, since it's both an in-game item (and thus can be considered officially capitalized) and named after a city (which makes it capitalized according to standard English capitalization rules). However, "chocolate fudge" has no such excuse. Don't capitalize random stuff.

    Melted chocolate pooled in the bottom of the empty, glass bowl, as Bianca leaned towards him.
    Again with the commas-between-descriptors thing: since you probably wouldn't say the bowl is empty and glass, this should just be "empty glass bowl". Also, again with the don't-put-a-comma-before-'as'.

    Dispassionate, Black hugged his knees. “But then she took out her Serperior, I don’t know why, maybe to feed him. Instantly, she realised her mistake. She returned her Pokémon to the ball and apologised over and over again.”
    More angst about starter Pokémon. As I keep telling you, I really do like how you do this slow build-up of intrigue.

    The long lashes were tipped with tears, giving the impression of cut blades of grass after the morning’s dew.
    Lolwut. I get the longing to be a bit poetic, but this just sounds ridiculous and actually distracts from what is going on.

    “Nothing,” Black intoned.
    Intoned? Really?

    “They’re my best friends, I’ve known them the longest,” I reply.
    Comma splice. Either use comma-and, a semicolon or a period to separate those two sentences.

    The underside of cumulus clouds were tinged with splashes of pink and orange
    Since you're talking about many undersides (that were tinged), that should be pluralized there.

    Black wondered if daybreak had a bell, and what that would sound like. A soft peal? A trumpeting cry? An indefinite echo, Black decided.
    I have absolutely no idea what you're trying to communicate with this or what in the world Black is thinking. This honestly feels like just an injection of random pretentiousness.

    It also seems a bit silly and pseudophilosophical to act as if there is a great sense of uncertainty about whether the sun is going to rise in the morning (especially since the horizon has already started brightening considerably by that point). I'd forgive this more easily if Black himself hadn't been criticizing Cynthia for spouting pseudophilosophical crap. He doesn't seem like a person who'd seriously think something like that. He can like the dawn just fine, and maybe even enjoy imagining the sun just failing to rise one day - but portraying it as actual uncertainty feels ridiculous.

    You didn’t have to engrave my hand to make your point.
    Unless I've really missed some memo on the word "engrave", it does not mean simply pecking somebody's finger; it means carving some kind of word, symbol or image into something. Even if it has some obscure meaning by which this makes sense, it's a poor word choice compared to all the more appropriate words you could be using.

    Unfezant slanted her head to the left, and then to the left.
    One of those should probably be "right". Also, ditch the comma.

    Black wondered if Unfezant’s calm demeanour was a vestige from her Tranquil days.
    Tranquill, two L's.

    Black glanced at his Mudkipz wris****ch.
    ...is that a typo, or does he seriously have a watch with a real-world internet meme?

    The beautiful bubbles from the emulsion will be soothing to the mouth, like warm bowl of silky Minestrone.
    Unless the typo is trying to make some kind of point about Caitlin, that should be "like a warm bowl". Though the simile makes no real sense, and that fact makes it sound like Black's narration (which features a lot of those) more than a note written by another character, especially since Caitlin as we've seen her so far is quite direct.

    He was grabbing his League cap, when he saw Caitlin’s folded note, still lying on the sink.
    Like with "as", you don't need a comma before "when".

    As with so many things in this fic, "regal jelly" has no reason to be capitalized and thus shouldn't be. I'm also really not sure what the whole point of the thing about Black looking for some toothpaste and regal jelly is.

    She was sitting on the green futon, her back as rigid as a wooden board and a stiff posture that would give Cheren a run for his money.
    This sentence doesn't make sense; you're saying her back is as rigid as a wooden board and also as rigid as a stiff posture. You probably want to say her posture was stiff enough to give Cheren a run for his money.

    If Black didn’t know any better, he would say that this woman was a police officer or a Private eye.
    "Private" should not be capitalized either.

    The way the revelation that the "woman" in the lounge is apparently also Cynthia is set up is awkward. If you spend so long describing her as "somebody else" and then suddenly say it's Cynthia, we get the impression that Black looks at her for several seconds before realizing it's Cynthia, which is absurd since there is no indication the fact she looks like Cynthia is in any way unclear. If you artificially obscure something the POV character knows from the reader for longer than a sentence or two, it will feel off.

    Her face bubbled, as invisible insects scampered under her skin.
    See my many previous comments about commas and "as". Also, you're making it sound like invisible insects were in fact scampering under her skin, not that it just looked like it.

    “Thanks to the Gym Leaders and to you, yes, the castle of Team Plasma had fallen. The Interpol have already arrested several Grunts of Plasma.” Looker explained briskly.
    "Explained" without an object is a speech verb, so you should have a comma before the closing quote there.

    They’ve all had dealt with Team Plasma.
    I'm presuming you meant "They've all dealt with Team Plasma."

    Silence descended, like rain.
    Not a good simile. Rain is noisy and the silence is only descending in a metaphorical way, whereas rain descends literally. It's not illustrative or useful and doesn't make sense here. I suppose maybe comparing silence to rain would work in certain situations, but here they're talking and they're inside a building; bringing up rain all of a sudden just seems bizarre and jarring.

    “Really now, he said that?” Black was sarcastic. “Did he also pet you on the head and give you a dogtreat?”
    I can't really make sense of this. Saying this makes sense if Black's impression is that Alder was treating Looker like a dog, in a condescending way. However, what Looker says Alder told him doesn't seem condescending by any stretch of the imagination, even if it's wrong or naive or whatever, so I'm at a loss as to why Black would start making dog jokes.

    Sunlight streaked through the windows, splashing at Black’s feet
    Yet another weird metaphor. Not only does sunlight not splash in any possible sense, but it also has no reason to only be "splashing" at his feet as opposed to the rest of his body if it's just coming in through the windows. Splashing at someone's feet is what water does, but it's very decidedly not what sunlight does and describing it that way just results in strange mental images.

    A mental lightbulb switched on, as the detective strode up to Black.
    Extraneous comma.

    “Transform for Transport.”
    Don't capitalize "Transport".

    Black scrunched the business card in his hands, as Looker flew away on his Ditto.
    Again with the comma.

    “Please stop this,” said Cynthia, as her face became irritated ever-so slightly.
    This seems really awkwardly worded (became irritated ever-so slightly?). Also, the comma.

    Cynthia had to restrain herself from flinching when she saw the pure fury burning in Black’s amber eyes.
    This sentence seems to be randomly jumping into Cynthia's POV, which is pretty jarring. Earlier you described Cynthia almost flinching from Black's POV, where he's presumably seeing her start to flinch a little or at least imagining she's about to flinch, but here you're saying she had to restrain herself from flinching, which Black can't really know, and she's looking at his eyes, which Black obviously couldn't do himself.

    I smile at N.

    “Yeah, I think we could have been friends.”
    I like these closing lines and how they play off what's going on in the main body of the story.


    Technically you only contracted me to read these three chapters and what you read of Morphic was far less than even this in terms of word count, so I'm not going to quote-review chapter four; this has taken way too long already. I'll probably read it in a bit anyway and maybe post another review or add to this one, but this is where I stop for now.

    My thoughts are still pretty much the same as at the end of chapter one. I like the characterization outside of some odd moments, assuming I'm understanding your intentions with the characters correctly, and you've got a pretty intriguing, slow-building character-based plot. However, though it seems to have improved somewhat, your writing can still be awkward, disjointed and includes inappropriate and unhelpful descriptions and similes. Don't describe things unless they're important or interesting and Black would realistically be paying attention to them. And before you put in a simile, stop and ask yourself, "Does this simile illuminate what's going on, or do I just want to put a simile here to sound more poetic?" Similes in third person limited should be used to show the POV character mentally comparing what they're seeing with a) something they're more familiar with that allows them to comprehend it better, b) something that resembles it in enough significant ways for the subject to honestly remind him of it, or c) something that brings to mind the right kind of hyperbole for something they'd want to be hyperbolic about. A lot of the time you have similes for things that Black should be perfectly familiar with, comparing them to perfectly mundane things that are only remotely like the subject if you squint and turn your head. This misses the entire point of a simile and feels awkward.

    And, unfortunately, though the writing improved in chapters two and three, they're also slower than the first chapter in story terms and I'm starting to get a little impatient for the story to move on. From your introduction to chapter four, you probably get a move on there, which is nice, but the interest starts to drop in chapter three, so you might want to watch out for that.

    Grammatically, you'll want to stop capitalizing random things, not put commas before things like "when" and "as" unless some other rule mandates a comma there, and not put so many paragraph breaks in the middle of the same character's dialogue just because you put a dialogue tag there, as it confuses the reader, implies a topic shift when there is no significant such shift, and defies their ordinary expectation that the next paragraph in a conversation is being spoken by the other character. And I really, really recommend you stop italicizing attacks because it looks very silly.

    Also, you slip into past tense quite a bit in the first-person portions. Be careful with that.

    And that's my review. Hope it was worth it.


    EDIT: Okay, read chapter four. Good job on Black's emotions and his hatred of Cynthia; the bit where he screams at her about real loss was especially potent, and the revelation of what happened to Cynthia's Gastrodon and what was up with that ring you kept bringing up every ten seconds was pretty satisfying. I'd pretty much guessed what had happened to Emboar by now, but seeing it was cool. There were several typos or wording mistakes that I might comb through to find again if I get around to it, though, as well as tense errors in the first-person bits. Also, while Black's characterization felt solid and believable, I didn't feel as much of a connection with Cynthia's breakdown, especially since she has a lot of kind of stilted or cheesy lines and you didn't pay as much attention to her as you did to Black; you might want to add more to her body language or something (to pin down properly where you're going wrong I'd have to read it again, so I'll have to apologize for how vague this is for now). Overall, though, I was really pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the emotions you managed to convey near the end; even my general problems with your writing style seemed to dissolve. The battle also seemed pretty well interweaved with the verbal confrontation, at least as it went on. Again, though, the repetition of Black crying at the end didn't really work for me. The symbolic effect is actually more powerful without having the wording be parallel as well.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 2nd August 2011 at 8:56 PM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

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    Dragonfree: Firstly, thanks for the long and detailed review. No matter what happens, I appreciate. I don't agree with everything you've said, especially when it comes to descriptions and sentence length (that wasn't unpredictable, lol, considering that I didn't like your sentences for being too long and wordy. Irony. XD), but I will try my hardest to integrate what you've said, at the very least when it comes to the first POV/third POV stuff.

    It will take me some time to integrate the nitpicky stuff, because you've pointed out so many, but I shall do my best! I'll probably get started after I post the rest of the chapters (minus epilogue), though, because I'm a procrastinator. D=

    Even though we subscribe to different views and theories when it comes to writing, I can truly appreciate the extent of the help you have just given me. Cheers and thanks.

    Chapter Four will come very soon.

    Under the Same Sky - PG-15||Completed

    Memorandum to UtSS: "A Deathless Prelude".
    FF.net Profile//Quote-of-the-month: “History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace and revolution continue on forever.”

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    Double-post, but here's Chapter Five. Please read and enjoy.

    I recognise that this is a slower chapter compared to the last one, but the plot is rapidly coming to a close, and I have plot holes/elements to tie-up. However, I hope you guys notice the parallels I'm trying to make between here and previous chapters.

    I've endeavoured to structure this story so that mirror images are created, as well as character development. I hope you enjoy. Even though not as many people reviewed this time, I'm sure that if I horde Chapter Six and do not release it for some time, people will eventually catch-on. *evil laugh*

    Also, I hope that you notice the Minor Characters who make reappearances in this chapter. There are at least three, so have fun!

    Cheers.


    ================================================== =======

    Chapter Five

    ================================================== =======
    “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
    -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-

    ================================================== =======

    Cheren is watching me. I can feel his scrutinising looks.

    “Do you ever wonder what you might have been?” he asks.

    “What do you mean?”

    “What you would have been if you never became a Trainer.”

    I choose to be funny. “A space cowboy.”

    Cheren shakes his head.

    “You fucker,” he says, almost pityingly. “You have no idea of what you want to be, do you?”




    /+/+/+/+/+/ /



    -Undella Town-
    Thursday


    Black was sitting on the edge of the pier, dangling his feet over the seawater. His socks and sneakers were flung to the side. He watched as the sun descended in the west, splashing the horizon with burnished swathes of gold and purple. Sensing the end of the day, most people had headed indoors: the wharf was empty, with the exception of a few persistent fishermen, while a lone woman fed a wild Pelipper. All in all, Undella Beach was peaceful at twilight.

    He lifted his right leg. Messy, white bandages enclosed the swollen ankle, protecting the wound against infection. The cut from the battle with Cynthia had yet to heal. Indeed, his ankle throbbed a little whenever he took a step. Granted, Black had experienced worse injuries, but it was still a bitch to not be able to run. He had walk, or suffer the consequent aches. At least that was what the doctor had said.

    Cynthia… He hadn’t seen her since the Pokémon match. After he broke down in front of her, Black had exhausted himself. His recollections were hazy, but he remembered somebody stroking his hair, whispering that things were going to be alright. He must have fallen asleep in the person’s arms, because the next clearest memory he had was waking up the following morning, in the guestroom. A blanket had been carefully placed over him.

    Black’s C-Gear buzzed, bringing him back from his thoughts. Sliding it open, he checked the Caller ID: Bianca. Black sighed. This was the second time that Bianca had tried to contact him today. Perhaps she was attempting to compensate for not calling him at all for the last two days. Oh, well. He had to concede that Bianca had guts.

    Ordinarily, Black would have switched off his C-Gear when he saw Bianca’s name on the screen, but this time, he let it cross to voice-mail. He didn’t know why, but the persistent video-calls didn’t bother him as much as it would have a week ago.

    Um, hey.” A female voice piped from the voice-mail. “It’s me again, Bianca! Well, you probably already know that, because of Caller ID? Gah, I’ve never liked that stuff – it eliminates the element of surprise!

    “I’m sure the Xtransceiver people were thinking of you, Bianca, when they designed it,” said Black drolly.

    Anyway, I know you probably don’t wanna talk to me.” Bianca seemed more solemn. “Y’know, with everything that happened. Uh, you probably don’t even like me right now, with all the calls I’ve been making.

    Black tugged at the hem of his shirt.

    Bianca perked up again: “But if you’re interested, some of the old gang is meeting up in Nimbasa, this Sunday! We’re riding the Big Dipper and everything. They didn’t think to invite you, because, y’know – but I said, “screw them”!

    Another tug.

    We had so much fun the last time we went to the Nimbasa Theme Park,” she said, excitedly. “I’ll win that Houndoom plushie you like at the shooting gallery! You remember how I trashed Cheren at riffle-shooting.

    A tug again.

    We’re planning to arrive at the Nimbasa Theme Park by ten in the morning,” said Bianca. She became quiet. “I really hope to see you there.

    After a pause, she said, “I miss you.

    The C-Gear beeped, signalling the end of the message. Black tapped his fingers against the side of the pier. He mulled over the bouncy voice which he had heard. Bianca sounded hoarser, a touch deeper even. Perhaps she was feeling a little under water? Stress or worry? Both? However… That cheerful pep, an exuberance that made you wonder which meds she had hopped on – Bianca hadn’t changed, overall. She probably never will. As Professor Juniper once said, Bianca was like the sun: bright, vivid, and constant.

    That thought put an almost indiscernible smile on Black’s face.

    Picking up his socks and shoes, Black stood up and experimentally rolled his ankle. A dull prick of pain tingled. But it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Thankfully, the cut had been cleaned with antiseptic, it seemed. The bandages also were wrapped tightly, staunching any blood flow.

    The person who had treated his wound took great care to dress it properly.

    “Cynthia, I don’t get you,” muttered Black.

    It was true. He had a deluge of questions for the blond woman, but she had disappeared to somewhere. When Black had awakened, Cynthia was not in sight. He had searched the rest of the villa: in the lounge, he found his Pokéballs, within which his Pokémon were mysteriously Full-Restored. In the dining room, he found a casserole dish filled with enough Stir Fry to provide three meals. And in the kitchen, he found was a small Post-it on the fridge. It was written in Cynthia’s slanted writing, with sloped ‘l’s and looped ‘g’s.


    -Dear (____),

    I’ve gone to meet someone. I could not postpone it any longer.

    I promise to return by tomorrow.

    Food is in the dining room.

    Please remember that it’s not your fault.

    Love,

    Cynthia.



    Black’s name – his actual name – was smudged out. It presumably happened when Cynthia had written in hurry, accidentally smearing the ink with her sleeve. Maybe the person she was meeting was so important that exigency was required. A League official? Lucian of the Sinnoh Elite Four? Michael Rowan, the Professor on Pokémon Evolution?

    Black put on his socks and sneakers, while his mind wandered elsewhere. As a result of Cynthia’s temporary absence, he had spent the whole day to himself. It was rather lacklustre: he exercised in the villa’s gym, taking a jog on the running machine. Next was a nap on the futon. Afterwards, Black flicked on the widescreen and surfed the channels. Eventually, he settled on one of those subtitled telenovelas: Marietta had betrayed the loyal Entei for her mother, while Ginevra had married Enrique, producing children and upsetting the wider community around them.

    What an odd plot, if he could say so himself.

    All in all, the day had been uneventful and boring. But Black found himself much happier than he had been for a while. That tremendous weight had lifted, allowing him to breathe for the first time. Some might call it ‘catharsis’.

    After tying his laces, Black started walking down the pier. He could hear a few gasps and pointing stares. Even though the wharf was mostly empty, some people still loitered. A middle-aged waitress bumped into a bench-top, while a father of two tried to calm his suddenly restless kids. The restaurant next door wasn’t any better: the local, sitting at a wicker table, spluttered his steamed, ocean-fresh trout; in the adjacent seat, the businesswoman directed her Purrloin’s gaze away from Black.

    Black rolled his eyes. Instead of pushing down his League cap, he raised it.

    “Should I add a third eye to my appearance,” Black said wryly, “or would they stare too much?”

    Black strolled past the restaurant and headed down a series of concrete steps. Gradually, the hard pavement segued into soft, white sands. He could see the ocean kissing the beach, lapping in rolling waves. A lifeguard’s high-chair, white with peeling red stripes, stood aloof. Next to it laid a deflated tuba and the strange arrangement of stones. Luminescent sunlight traced the skeletons of two parasols, while a few indistinct shapes bobbed in the distant, indigo waters. If he had to, Black would guess that a visiting Wailmer pod from Hoenn was grazing on the sunken krill. The clean scent of salt permeated the area. Everything felt calming.

    This was one of his favourite parts of Undella. It was the beach where he and Cynthia had visited on Tuesday.

    Unhurried, Black treaded the sands. This part of Undella Bay was neglected. Compared to the tourist gaggles which waddled around the other beaches, only the occasional, intrepid local had boasted visiting this beach.

    Black had concluded his research on the beach. Apparently, the town folklore had claimed that this part of the Bay, loosely called ‘the Divine Cove’, was cursed. A god who governed creation had supposedly contoured the Cove. The legends warned that a person who stepped into its watery depths would be judged. Therein, the voyager would either die – or live.

    It seemed that these warnings hadn’t deter Cynthia, though. She had dragged him here without any scruples. Twice. In swimsuits. If anything, the maniacal myths had probably encouraged her. She did have a bizarre fascination for legends.

    Black cocked an eyebrow.

    “A god who judges whether you live or die, huh?”

    He continued to walk down the beach. Pausing, he wondered if Caitlin had heard about her garden’s current condition. The damage totalled between him and Cynthia was colossal: six headless sculptures, two shattered fountains, a garden gnome with no hands, and three birch trees which resembled charred stumps. A majority of the lawn suffered from hoarfrost, while a giant chasm filled with ice stretched from the burnt oak to the porch. The split chairs alone would give Caitlin an aneurysm.

    Of course, the payments would cost a mere drop in her vast fortune, but the repairs would take time. Time which Caitlin would spend bitching in his ear.

    At the thought of Caitlin, Black reached into his pockets. He pulled out a folded note and opened it. The Elite Four’s message was just as he remembered: snide and highbrowed. Still…

    He snorted and shoved the note back into pants. Somehow, enduring Caitlin’s whinging didn’t seem that bad. Hm.

    Folding his arms behind his head, Black resumed walking down the beach. The breeze was gentle, and his thoughts were not heavy, for once. He didn’t understand why the locals viewed the Cove as a source of fear. It was irrefutably peaceful…

    Then, something happened.

    A wave broke on Black’s feet, a wave that was stronger than the ones which preceded it. Suspicious, Black flicked his gaze towards the horizon. The waters were becoming oddly turbulent, as though ocean itself had become frightened. Strident wails rang out, like the police’s siren. Trouble was brewing. Instinctively, Black’s hand shot to his Pokéballs.

    His danger senses proved true: a large throng of figures started to brawl in the distant water. There were roars and shrieks, as chunks of fat and thick blubber went flying. Pillars of pressurised water spouted upwards. Black narrowed his eyes when he caught a glimpse of something black. A curved, scarred dorsal fin. The final piece of evidence was the thick slivers of red which began to lace the seawater, turning it purple.

    A Sharpedo attack.

    Black knew that Sharpedo were called the Bullies of the Sea for a reason. Their serrated fangs could tear through sheet iron, while the sleek, pectoral fins were designed for maximum, aquatic acceleration. Only the ferocity of their draconian cousins, Gabite and Garchomp, matched Sharpedo’s aggression. Indeed, both Kanto and Unova dreaded Sharpedo gangs so much that the respective provincial governments had introduced anti-shark legislation. Sharpedo Nets became a common sight in both regions. Some Unovans even actively hunted Sharpedos, baiting them with Goldeen flesh or severing their fins for a special gumbo.

    The consequence was that Sharpedo were now rare in Unova; only the vast waters of Hoenn still housed noteworthy Sharpedo populations. Therefore, for a Sharpedo to be found in Undella Bay, it had to be able to survive the constant shark-baiting and anti-shark nets, especially the numerous premium ones which enclosed Undella Bay. It had to be powerful and ruthless.

    Highly experienced, highly leveled.

    The Wailmer pod had little chance of survival.

    After another minute, the thrashing in the water ceased. The wails silenced. As large, bloodied blobs began to rise to the surface, Black fished out his Pokédex and pointed it at the centre of activity. Prototype #A05 had a high-quality, inbuilt camera. At the right angle, he could capture a decent picture of the Sharpedo.

    The screen displayed a shaky resolution; Black had to squint a little to perceive the image. The picture mainly showed the reddish waters and bits of Wailmer carcasses, but there was an interesting blur at the top-right corner.

    Black enlarged the photograph and zoomed in the blur. As the Pokédex processed the image, he could make out the outline of the Sharpedo’s body. The beast had its fangs halfway into a Wailmer’s stomach, dragged out the entails in its mouth. However, that was not what interested Black. No, it was the Sharpedo’s skin.

    It wasn’t black, as he originally had thought, but vibrant purple. A mystical, silvery aura clung to the shark, like a robe.

    Interestingly, the dead Wailmer were also strangely coloured. Diverging from their usual indigo tint, the pod was arrayed in shades of violet, even without the blood staining their skins. What did Professor Juniper call Pokémon with these rare, deviant colours? Ah, ‘Shinies’.

    “What a stupid term,” muttered Black.

    Witnessing the Sharpedo finish its messy meal, Black wondered what had caused these Pokémon to obtain their extraordinary, perturbing colours. Was the presence of the Divine Cove? The legends spoken by Undella Town? Professor Juniper implied that the cause was a mutation, although the sources of the mutations were unknown. Yes, radiation could trigger pigment mutation, but such intense radiation did not exist in the wild, at least not naturally. A scientific anomaly, a mystery… From the available genetic material, Black was beginning to speculate that the origin of Shinies was supernatural, celestial even.

    No wonder the locals avoided the Cove. An ordinary person would have been terrified of these Shiny Pokémon.

    Eventually, the Sharpedo stopped its feeding and released its last Wailmer carcass. Black took another photograph using his Pokédex. Zoom-in. Judging from the look in its red eyes, the shark had satiated its hunger and was ready to leave. Sure enough, the tell-tale dorsal fin began to swim away from the scene. Within two minutes, the vibrant purple was a mere dot in the horizon. Another minute, it was gone.

    In the event of a wild Pokémon feeding upon another, Black would usually leave the area as quickly as possible. However, those eerie colours intrigued him.

    He stepped towards the water, almost hesitantly.

    Suddenly, an enormous beast leapt at him from the ocean. With his razor-honed reflexes, Black opened the first Pokéball in his belt. Carracosta materialised in a white flash and instinctively blocked the mysterious creature’s attack.

    Recoiling from Carracosta’s defence, the beast hastened back into the water. Even under the faint light of dusk, Black could see the creature which had attacked him. Purple skin, which was peeling at little from tooth-wounds. A tan belly with grooves. Pupils that were dilated in fear and panic.

    It was one of the Wailmer from the pod, a survivor of the Sharpedo’s feast.

    “Those dilated eyes… It’s just probably frightened from the Sharpedo attack,” Black said to himself. “I need to show that I don’t mean any harm.”

    The Shiny Wailmer launched itself at Black again. Defending, Carracosta pushed it away with a Water Pulse. The whale ricocheted into the ocean, giving a small wail of pain. More blood seeped from its wounds. Abruptly, Black realised that Wailmer was still injured; the Pokémon would require urgent medical attention, or else it would not survive the night.

    Black felt his conscience prick.

    “Carracosta,” he said, turning to his Pokémon. “Try to trap Wailmer in a Rock Tomb. Be careful not to hurt it, though.”

    Lazily, the sea-turtle stomped on the ground. Several rocks emerged and sailed towards Wailmer, like a gliding flock of Swanna. The first few landed in front of the whale, blocking its movement. However, Wailmer hurled a Hydro Pump at the Rock Tomb, breaking through it. Black massaged his temples when the whale used this opportunity and swam away, down the beach.

    Sighing, he said, “One of these days, my impulsiveness will kill me.”

    He started to sprint after the Wailmer but dug in his heels, when he noticed that Carracosta was not moving. The damn sea-turtle was yawning, giving his Trainer a bored look.

    “If you’re not coming, I’ll stop taping your favourite TV show,” Black told Carracosta. “The one with the fucking chef who swears at everyone.”

    Carracosta gave him the finger. Nevertheless, the sea-turtle started to follow Black, although reluctantly.

    The two raced down the coastline, passing through several lifeguard flags. Soon, Black had left the Divine Cove and was at Spiraria Beach, the most popular and tourist-friendly section of Undella Bay. It wasn’t difficult to find Wailmer; the Pokémon was three-hundred pound whale, after all.

    Wailmer was beached next to a tide pool, wheezing on the craggy rocks. A group of schoolgirls, who were presumably taking an evening walk, were squealing at a safe distance.

    Black turned to Carracosta.

    Rock Tomb again!” he commanded.

    Great boulders soared out again, falling around Wailmer in an ensnaring circle. However, this time the whale was too exhausted to escape. Firing that Hydro Pump – and swimming away – had sapped most of its remaining strength.

    “Okay, Wailmer needs to get to a PokéCenter. But we could end up doing more damage if we touch him,” murmured Black, formulating a plan.

    He reached for his satchel. “I’ll need to capture it, then.”

    Black went through his available Pokéballs. It didn’t take too long to make a decision.

    After ordering Carracosta to remove some rocks and clear a passage for him, Black approached the Wailmer. He gripped his chosen Pokéball. His eyes softened at the sight of the injured Wailmer, as brown blood puddled underneath its belly.

    “Rest well,” he said, as he threw the Heal Ball.

    The pink Pokéball flew into Wailmer. Immediately, the Pokémon’s body liquefied into a dynamic, red light and spiralled into the empty ball. The Heal Ball closed with a ‘snap’. Rhythmic clicks started to sound. Three more clicks, and the Pokéball stopped moving. A clean capture.

    Black picked up the Heal Ball. Pursing his lips, he flipped out his Pokédex and analysed the Wailmer inside it. Although he knew that Heal Balls restored their Pokémon’s health, Black wanted to be sure.

    H. Status: CONSCIOUS; Full health’,” he read aloud, “‘Minor scarring; may require latter treatment at a PokéCenter’.

    Relieved, Black switched off the Pokédex. So Wailmer was alright, and he wasn’t too late.

    “I saw what you did,” said a girl’s voice from behind him. “That was an amazing use of Rock Tomb. Precise aim, not to hurt Wailmer.”

    Black wheeled around.

    Behind him stood three girls, the schoolgirls who had been lingering around the rock pools. They each wore a laundered blazer and a pair of matching bell-bottoms. The Lilycove handbags hung off their delicate arms, like cherries from the dark-wood trees, while Hermčs scarves completed the reflections of easy wealth. Despite the similar articles of clothing, each girl had a differing colour scheme. The blithe blonde on the left wore yellow, while the scornful brunette on the right wore green.

    The redhead in the middle wore red. She was the one who had spoken. And her face was familiar: button nose, a stylish amount of make-up, and ponytailed, auburn curls which smelled like strawberries.

    It was the wealthy girl who had challenged him earlier. Susan Riche.

    “These are my school friends,” said Susan, gesturing at the other two girls. “This is Tyra Waldorf, daughter of Mayor Waldorf, and Rebecca van der Woodsen, my brother Miles’s fiancée.”

    Black glanced between the two girls. The breezy blonde – Rebecca – waved at him, while the disdainful brunette – Tyra – wrinkled her nose, as though she would not deign to consider the sight of him. Both were equal in attractiveness, he had to admit.

    He extended a hand to the girls.

    “Nice to meet you.”

    Starry-eyed, Rebecca shook his hand as if she were strangling it. On the other hand, Tyra took one peek at the dried Wailmer blood on his fingers and sneered. Black raised an eyebrow at the proud brunette. Normally, this sort of conceited behaviour would irk him, but at the moment, he had a better control of that same-old, embittered temperament. He found it entertaining, frankly, that this girl thought she was better than everyone else. She was bound for an unpleasant surprise, later in life.

    “We saw what your Carracosta did,” said Susan.

    “You did?”

    “Yes,” she replied, with the barest hint of wonder. “Your Pokémon was extraordinary, remarkably quick-footed for a resurrected Fossil. He’s well-taught.”

    Susan stared at Black. “You really are the Unova League Champion.”

    Black adjusted his cap; he kept his face impassive.

    “That’s my official title,” he said.

    Rebecca giggled and clapped her hands together.

    “Susan, I can’t believe you challenged him to a Pokémon Battle,” she said, breathlessly. “What were you thinking? How could you!”

    “Susan has a right to challenge whoever she wants to,” said Tyra in a cold voice.

    Amused, Black folded his arms. Did this girl, Tyra, have any sense of propriety? She didn’t understand him at all, like many people of her stature. In an ideal world, he would have insisted that she was kind-hearted under an icy exterior. The truth was that she was just a bitch.

    Susan seemed to notice the implications of Tyra’s comment. Spinning around, she admonished her friend:

    “Tyra! He’s standing right there!”

    When Tyra scowled, Susan turned to Black and grabbed his hands.

    “I’m sorry for the way Tyra’s behaving. Er, her summer boyfriend called it quits, so she’s been rather crabby lately,” explained Susan.

    Tyra hissed something in Rebecca’s ear, with a mean urgency. The cheery blonde gasped and blushed like a red fire-truck. She seemed scandalised. Black watched as Rebecca whispered something back at Tyra, who merely shrugged. Glancing at Susan and Black, Rebecca blushed again. Tyra smirked. In front of them, Susan didn’t look impressed; Black chuckled. He sensed some sort of rumour or gossip between Susan’s friends. High school politics were comical, that was for sure.

    Emboldened, Susan stepped towards Black; she was determined to compensate for Tyra’s general unpleasantness.

    “I want to give you something,” she told him. “You wouldn’t let me pay you when I lost the Pokémon battle. I felt kind of rotten about that, so – ”

    Susan pulled something out of her handbag. As Black tried to protest, she pushed it into his hands.

    “Here,” she said, closing his fingers around the object. “Keep it. Think of it as a belated ‘thank you’.”

    Black examined the gift. It was a metallic disk with a silver trimming. Accompanied by the blue glaze painted over it, this appearance was recognisable to him. A Hidden Machine, or HM for short.

    “HM06 – Dive,” Susan elaborated. “See the darker parts of the sea? Those are called diving points. If your Pokémon knows this move, it’ll be able to take you through those diving points and towards the ocean floor.”

    “Diving. Why would I want to do that?” asked Black, turning the disk in his hand.

    “I don’t know. Undella Bay has some wonderful oceanic trenches. Maybe it’d be interesting to explore those?”

    Black contemplated. Then, he slowly tucked HM06 among his other HMs and TMs. Like a cosy campfire, a warm feeling churned in his stomach. A smidgeon of pink reached his ears.

    “Erm, thanks,” he said, as he avoided looking Susan in the eye. “That was really… nice of you.”

    Susan pulled at an auburn curl, while her cheeks gained a similar pink tint. Her characteristic arrogance and confidence seemed to have melted away, leaving a schoolgirl reticence in its place. She hid her face from Black, with a curtain of hair.

    “No problem,” was the rushed reply.

    Tyra sniffed in disapproval, while Rebecca squeaked with delight and directed her eyes at Susan. Those hazel eyes gleamed with excitement, as though a sordid and fabulous story were blossoming before them. Black and Susan tried to evade each other’s gaze.

    Tyra eventually intervened.

    “Didn’t your grandfather want us to return by seven?” intruded the brunette snottily. “It’s nearly ten to seven.”

    Rebecca panicked. “Oh, Susan, that is true! We have to leave. Now.”

    “Alright, alright. Give me a minute,” muttered Susan.

    The other two girls obliged, giving Susan some privacy. She shot a grateful look. Clearing her throat, the auburn-haired girl turned to Black, who was touching the grooves in his Pokébelt. He looked up.

    “Try not to Dive in the Divine Cove. Strange things have happened there,” cautioned Susan. “Legends say that part of the Bay is haunted, or something.”

    Black laughed. “You don’t need to worry about me.”

    “Just because you’re the Champion of the Unova Pokémon League doesn’t mean you can’t get skewed by a rock, or something equally dangerous.”

    “I’m a big boy,” he said.

    “I know that,” retorted Susan; her face was luminous with red. “But I wanted you to be safe… because I thought maybe we could catch a musical together. Grandfather Zillion has spare tickets.”

    Black was surprised. “A musical?”

    “You know, a musical,” she mumbled. “There’s a new one in Nimbasa. Basically, all the characters are either gay or have AIDS.”

    Susan turned around before Black could formulate an adequate response.

    “Think about it,” she said.

    “And by the way, I saw what you did for that Wailmer.” Her voice tinged with true admiration. “It was really sweet. I think that’s why they call you the Hero of Unova.”

    Black didn’t reply.

    Returning to her friends’ side, Susan walked away without another word. As the girls climbed up the concrete stairs and left the beach completely, Black studied Susan’s back. Auburn bangs whipped against the ocean wind, revealing a creamy neck. Long legs and a hint of fresh strawberries…

    Black shook his head.

    “The Theme Park and the musical theatre…” Black trailed off, wondering.

    He gave a small smile. “Nimbasa can’t be too terrible this time of year.”



    /+/+/+/+/ /+/



    Professor Juniper examines my Pokédex. As she scrolls down the various entries of encountered Pokémon, her expression becomes impressed. I share a victorious grin with Pignite. Surprised, Professor Juniper sets down the Pokédex.

    “The sheer amount of data you were able to collect, all the different Trainers you must have met…” Professor Juniper trailed off.

    She closed her eyes. “I am speechless.”

    I’m uncomfortable with the attention and praise.

    “It’s not as amazing as you make it out to be,” I murmur.

    Professor Juniper chuckled.

    “You’re certainly a talented young man, no doubt about it,” she says. “I’m just glad you are using your gifts to help other people, I suppose.”





    /+/+/+/+/ /+/



    -Undella Town-
    Friday


    “W-What did you say? You shall do what?!”

    Black sipped his juicebox. “I said I’ll do it. It makes sense: I have the greatest experience with Team Plasma, so it’s only right that I help you.”

    “B-But that is not what you said on Wednesday!” sputtered Looker. “How is this possible?”

    “People can revise opinions,” replied Black, coolly. “I had some time to think about it.”

    They were sitting at a local café. Looker had chosen to meet at one of the noisier joints in Undella: bustling waitresses carried laminated menus, barking at the customers who were slower to order; a queue of businessmen, thirsty for espressos to-go, extended from the cashier to the lamppost outside. The fact that it was lunchtime only exacerbated the traffic. If Black had knew better, he would have insisted on another meeting place. However, the café’s food was dirt-cheap and phenomenal. The clientele was too busy salivating over their meals to eavesdrop.

    A few hours ago, Black had finished reading a series of books on Undella’s legends, when he saw a small business card flutter down from his jacket’s pocket. Looker’s business card. After a moment of thought, Black had steeled his mind and dialled the number on the card. When the detective picked up his phone, he was shocked. Looker had not been anticipating the turn of events. Nevertheless, he arranged to rendezvous at noon.

    If the mere fact that Black had wanted to meet him surprised Looker, Black couldn’t imagine how surprised the detective was now.

    “I must admit, I was a little doubtful. You were filled with anger during our last meeting,” said Looker, as he tried to collect his unhinged jaw and set down his BLT sandwich. “It was unlikely that you would even consider my offer.”

    “Like I said, I had some time to think about it,” said Black.

    As Looker shot up from his chair, the dumpy waitress who was taking the adjacent table’s order harrumphed. Annoyed, she squeezed her lips together, giving the impression of a shrivelled lemon.

    Looker disregarded the waitress’s irritation. Beaming, he shook Black by the shoulders. Black blanched at the almost painful force in the man’s grip. Didn’t Looker understand the concept of personal boundaries? Apparently not.

    “If you are speaking true, this is most wonderful news!” he exclaimed. “My quest to capture the Seven Sages shall be fast-forwarded. Oh, joyous!”

    Looker wore a childlike, mile-long grin, which looked ridiculous on a stubbly face with a square chin. Black sighed. It was a minor, Christmas miracle that the man was even able to function as a competent Private Investigator. In a logical world of hard truths, Looker’s uncontainable liveliness would have definitely thwarted his investigative work. However, the universe was more merciful and ideal, it seemed; Looker somehow managed to pull it together.

    Cynthia was right, as usual. Damn.

    Finally, the stocky waitress on the right had enough. She glared at Looker, who was still standing up and rattling Black’s shoulders.

    “Sir!” she rebuked. “Please control yourself. You are disturbing the other customers.”

    Looker either was dreadful at looking guilty or didn’t particularly care for the waitress’s opinion.

    “I apologise, Madam,” he said, not sounding apologetic at all.

    Offended, the woman huffed and marched away from their table. Idly, Black wondered how long it would take before the manager kicked Looker out. Minutes or seconds, which option? Hm…

    “I must warn you, Champion,” said Looker, after he was sure that the waitress was gone. “The investigation for the Seven Sages will be time-consuming. You must spend weeks in the Unova wild again, while following our leads.”

    Black sipped from his juicebox again; the orange flavour tingled as it went down his throat. He wiped his mouth. The juice was saccharine sweet, sweeter than juice from a bottle.

    “I’m aware,” he said.

    “Are you truly content with the conditions of this case, then? Will you still agree to our investigation, despite knowing these prices?” asked Looker.

    Picking at his own BLT sandwich, Black pondered the natural consequences of Looker’s words. Would he be prepared to put his life on hold? Fare shitty weather and shitty Trainers to track down a group of people which he had never wanted to see again? Be reminded of the terrible events at the Castle and of his own failings?

    A month ago, the answer would have been an empathic ‘no’, mixed with some choice swear words. However, now his answer was –

    “– yes,” replied Black.

    Oh, joyous!

    Ecstatic, Looker leapt to his feet again, sending the juicebox and the sandwiches flying. Orange juice drenched a stunned businessman, while bits of lettuce and tomato clung on the fuming waitress’s perm. When the woman calmly removed a piece of bacon from her cleavage and took in a deep breath, Black smirked and prepared to witness a yelling match of gargantuan proportions.

    He wasn’t disappointed. Yeah, definitely not.

    The screaming duel resulted in the manager throwing out Looker and Black from the café. It didn’t matter, though; they had nearly finished eating by that time. Looker himself didn’t seem to be too upset by the manager’s actions. The man was probably too excited from Black’s acceptance of his offer. Indeed, Looker spent the next thirty minutes detailing all of the Interpol’s liaisons. After he was finished with the liaisons, Looker then proceeded to his various leads, while the two of them started to walk down the street. There were a lot of leads, if Looker’s mouth was any indicator. Although the information bored him a little, Black smiled and politely nodded along.

    Black’s smile only waned when Looker mentioned something which chilled his nerves.

    “And we will have to locate Ghetsis again,” said Looker, shaking his fist. “That Shadow Triad is crafty, no? They broke into the prison, very easy.”

    Troubled, Black faced Looker. “Could you repeat that?”

    “Ah, the Shadow Triad is crafty.”

    “No, before that,” said Black quietly. “Did you say that Ghetsis escaped?”

    Looker scratched his head. He seemed rather embarrassed.

    “It is true,” he confirmed, tentatively. “A little shameful of the Interpol, but rest assured! We will capture the leader of Team Plasma once more!”

    Black clenched his fists.

    “Do you have any further questions?” asked Looker, in a careful tone.

    Surreptitiously, Black eyed the detective standing next to him. Looker had his right shoulder rolled back and his left foot forward. While tension held the arms, the man rapidly curled and uncurled his hands. His entire demeanour implied extreme hesitance. Overall, Looker seemed nervous. Was Looker afraid that Black would renege upon his acceptance of the offer?

    A sliver of pity slid up Black’s spine.

    “No, I’m good,” said Black; he shoved as much verve as he could into his voice.

    The trick appeared to have worked. Relaxing visibly, Looker wiped his forehead and beamed. The man checked his Jigglypuff wris****ch.

    “I must make my leave,” declared Looker. “I’m late for an important interrogation. Contact me tomorrow. You have my business card, yes?”

    Black nodded.

    “Excellent! We shall meet soon.”

    Taking out a Pokéball, Looker released his Ditto. The pink blob metamorphosed into a Fearow, predictably. As he mounted the Transformed Pokémon, Looker glanced down at Black. After a moment of rumination, the man extended his left hand. It was clenched.

    Looker bumped his fist against Black’s knuckles, forming a fist-bump.

    “And that is for good luck,” he said, grinning. “We are in this together. Right, Hero of Unova?”

    Black could only gape, as Looker crooned in his Ditto’s ear and ask the Pokémon to take off. With the aerial agility of an Aerodactyl, the Fearow metamorph soared into the sky. Soon, Looker and his Pokémon were a far-away blot, vanishing behind a plume of clouds. Black stared until he could no longer see the blurred man.

    Setting his eyes back on the street, Black perpended the new information. Ghetsis had escaped? The news sickened Black, like a bad dinner. The one-eyed leader of Team Plasma was easily one of the most manipulative, most conniving, most evil man which Black had the misfortune to meet. In his megalomania, Ghetsis had brainwashed masses of Unova into releasing their Pokémon, and, on a far more personal note, had indirectly caused –

    Deep breaths. Calming breaths. Black closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. He had come too far to regress, not again. The mere mention of Ghetsis’s name wasn’t going to summon those heavy thoughts again. Not if he couldn’t help it. And he was a fighter, dammit. He was going to make it. Fuck it, he had to. More deep breaths. Calming breaths.

    Gradually, the familiar pressure on his chest lessened. Black opened his eyes and wiped his face with his jacket’s sleeve. It was becoming easier.

    “Mom, look! It’s the Champion! The one who battled the giant dragon!”

    A small kid was pointing at Black from across the road. The child was tiny, even for his elementary school age; he barely possessed twice the height of his pet Emolga, who was squeaking from the side. A young woman, presumably the mother, was holding the kid’s hand. Stricken, she froze upon seeing the newest Champion. Unlike her son, she appeared to be rather scared of Black. It wasn’t an uncommon response.

    “Don’t point, Tim,” the mother reprimanded. “It’s rude and isn’t considered good manners.”

    “I knew it!” exclaimed Tim. “I knew that Bart was telling the truth yesterday! Can I please ask him for an autograph, oh please – ”

    “Tim, now is not the time.” The mother was anxious. “He probably doesn’t want to. Let’s go home – ”

    “But Mom! He’s the Champion. Please, just let me at least ask him. He might say ‘yes’!”

    “Timothy, stop this nonsense,” said the mother; she tugged on her son’s arm. “The Champion is a busy person. Tim, don’t act like – ”

    The woman’s words were caught in her throat when she saw the Unova Champion walking towards them. Tim gawked, as though he had witnessed Santa Claus give one of the elves a lap dance.

    “C-Champion,” choked the mother.

    In these circumstances, Black would generally lower his League hat and try to hide his face. He didn’t like the attention and his status as Unova’s Champion. However, things were different now. Black raised his cap and smiled down at the kid.

    “What’s your name, kiddo?” asked Black.

    Tim brightened. “Timothy Daniel Drake, but everyone calls me ‘Tim’.”

    The mother looked distinctly uncomfortable. Shooting Black a fearful look, she wrapped her arms around her son. Her posture was protective, as though she were expecting Black to fish out a Pokéball and release a Legendary Pokémon on a whim. Which was at least half-true.

    “You can relax,” Black told the mother. “I don’t plan to hurt your son.”

    She tightened her expression. “Then what are you trying to do?”

    “Give your son an autograph,” was Black’s honest answer.

    While the woman dropped her arms in muted surprise, Black took out an empty Pokéball from his bag. He whipped out a permanent marker; he started to write on the white half of the ball.

    “‘To Tim Drake’,” said Black, as he read out what he wrote. “‘Life may seem stupid, but it gets better. Eventually. And eat your green vegetables – they’re actually good for you’.”

    He finished with a flourish. “‘Signed, the Fifteenth Unova Champion’.”

    Gently, Black passed the signed Pokéball into Tim’s hands. The smile on the kid’s face widened to a width which exceeded what should have been a natural limit.

    “T-Thank you, mister!” cried Tim, cradling the Pokéball.

    “You’re welcome.”

    The mother was astonished. She gawped at Black, who was capping the marker and returning it to his pocket. The fear in her expression had abated, and flabbergasted gratitude emerged.

    “The editorials said that you were cold and hostile,” stammered the woman. “They said that you would never sign autographs, and that you could – ”

    “Shut up, Mom!” Tim cut in.

    Clutching the Pokéball, the kid rebuked his own mother:

    “The Champion is nothing like what the stupid ‘zines say! I’ve been saying he’s a good person, and now, you can see that.”

    Ignoring his gobsmacked mother, Tim swivelled around and stared at Black. The kid’s eyes were bright and hopeful, reminding Black a little of his old self.

    “You were always the coolest Champion,” asserted Tim. “No matter how many times Bart blubbered it, Lance wasn’t cooler than you. Lance may be a Dragon Tamer, but you’re the Hero of Unova!”

    Black blinked.

    Then, he ruffled Tim’s hair. His voice was quiet but resolute.

    “Yeah, I am.”


    /+/+/+/+/ /+/



    Bianca isn’t watching me. She’s too busy fingering the hem of her skirt, as though she’s in a trance. While a glassy look glazes over her eyes, she chews on her bottom lip. Even that isn’t enough, she starts drumming her fingers on the café table. Spacing out, again. Sighing, I set down my spoon.

    “You dragged me to Castelia City to talk to me,” I say, feeling exasperated. “Suddenly, you’re not doing that anymore.”

    Bianca blinks. “Oh, was I doing spacing again? Sorry.”

    “What were you thinking about,” I ask, “that distracted you so much?”

    “Z-Zekrom.”

    I nearly slip out of my chair. Repressing my emotions, I tried to put on a smile. It was a pale imitation, like how a shadow is only the outline and not the object itself.

    “I was wondering… you said that Zekrom left you after, well, you know.”

    “Yes,” I reply in a prickly voice. “He flew away to the horizon when the battle had finished.”

    “Do you think he’ll ever come back?”

    I pick at my League hat. “Maybe. It’s his choice. I don’t think so, though.”

    “Why?” she asks.

    “We finished our agreement,” I answer, “and we don’t believe in the same things anymore.”

    Bianca gives me a meaningful look. She shakes her head, before facing me.

    “Once you’re the Hero of Unova, you’ll always be the Hero of Unova,” Bianca says, “No matter what you claim.”

    She touches my hand; I whip it away from her.

    “I-I think, someday, you’ll see Zekrom again.”





    /fin of Chapter Five/


    Ergh, opening quote for this chapter was really hard to find, fyi. I struggled a little with that.
    Last edited by Draco Malfoy; 8th August 2011 at 11:49 AM.

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    So, Black's real name has got at least one K in it, right?

    And in the kitchen, he found was a small Post-it on the fridge. It was written in Cynthia’s slanted writing, with lopped ‘k’s and looped ‘g’s.


    -Dear (____),

    I’ve gone to meet someone. I could not postpone it any longer.

    I promise to return by tomorrow.

    Food is in the dining room.

    Please remember that it’s not your fault.

    Love,

    Cynthia.
    No 'k's in the text, so it has to be in Black's name, otherwise it doesn't make any sence..

    And did Susan seriously fell in love with Black? Or do I have a lack of English knowledge (which is very well possible, considering the amount of words I had to look up in this Chapter)

    Anyway, great chapter, though I think Black has changed radically, maybe a bit too much for one day even. Setting Bianca to voice mail was all right, but walking up to Tim, hmm. I don't know. It could be me, but I really didn't expect him to do that, even after what happened.
    Last edited by Emeraldfan; 8th August 2011 at 8:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emeraldfan View Post
    So, Black's real name has got at least one K in it, right?



    No 'k's in the text, so it has to be in Black's name, otherwise it doesn't make any sence..
    Whoops, I forgot to correct that mistake. That was from the original draft, when I insisted that his real name was 'Black'. In this story, the current draft, Black is only his nickname, though.

    I better change that.

    I'm sure you can now guess what his real name is. =D


    Quote Originally Posted by Emeraldfan View Post
    And did Susan seriously fell in love with Black? Or do I have a lack of English knowledge (which is very well possible, considering the amount of words I had to look up in this Chapter)

    Anyway, great chapter, though I think Black has changed radically, maybe a bit too much for one day even. Setting Bianca to voice mail was all right, but walking up to Tim, hmm. I don't know. It could be me, but I really didn't expect him to do that, even after what happened.
    Susan didn't really "fall in love" with Black. I don't believe in that love-at-first-sight stuff. She does, however, have a slight attraction towards him, or a small crush. He's a rather public figure, and judging from the way they interacted before, it's plausible.

    And Black didn't really change over night. I've tried to imply that this is his true personality, or at least what he used to be pre-N; the catharsis has simply allowed him to shrug off some emotional baggage, that's all. There were always hints that Black was an alright guy inside (Unfeazant, Susan, Cynthia and the swimsuit, even the flashbacks). Cynthia believed that Black had the potential to become a great Champion for a reason. She's not stupid. xD

    The cynicism is still there, as you could tell by some of the wry narration; it's just that it's not stifling him anymore. I've tried to build up to his Character Development throughout the story in steady increments. In fact, Black in Chapter Three was already less gloomy than in Chapter One.

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    I'm sure you can now guess what his real name is. =D
    Not really, I haven't played through Black or White yet, so...

    And thanks for the rest of the explanation, it makes stuff more clear this way, both the chapter and my lack of English knowledge :P

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    Super Edit time!

    HILBERT!

    When the woman calmly removed a piece of bacon from her cleavage
    BACON + CLEAVAGE! THIS FIC HAS OFFICIALLY WON.

    No inside joke, but it's Bacon, tasty food stuff, plus cleavage. It's hard to explain, but the combination of the two just makes for excellent reading.

    Looker bumped his fist against Black’s knuckles, forming a fist-bump.
    LOOKER BRO-FIST! STOP WINNING!

    Brohoof. The only thing manlier than a Brofist :P

    Okay, I'll stop the caps... for now ¬¬


    I personally think Cheren needs to lighten up, Space Cowboy is a perfectly acceptable Career Path, following in the illustrious footsteps of Jamiroquai and Joey's imaginary friend Maurice.

    Now that I'm not being interrupted by my grandparents, I'll actually take a look at the rest of the fic which doesn't involve (as much) epic win.


    First of all I liked Black's new attitude. Yeah, he may still have a grumpy streak in him, but he's really turned a corner, actually letting Bianca get to voicemail? Heavens to betsy! Okay, so he had his doubts about whether he wanted to go to the amusement park or not, but when he gets asked out on a date from a rich girl, hellz yeah, Nimbasa City here we come xD

    Hilly's got two girls on the go, the dog :P

    In fact, I thought the scene with Black and Susan's little group of friends was pretty good overall, from the friends reactions you could really tell that Susan herself had set the whole thing up as a way to talk to Black without wussing out of asking him to the Musical (Probably Black's first visit, who seriously uses that place in game? It's worse than DPPt contests ffs! Once again, Hoenn wins the generation war) I say go for it Hilly, if nothing else, she's rich.

    Once again I thought you did excellently with Looker's dialogue.

    “If you are speaking true, this is most wonderful news!” he exclaimed. “My quest to capture the Seven Sages shall be fast-forwarded. Oh, joyous!”
    Ha! All Ghetsis' base are belong to Looker!

    "You were always the coolest Champion,” asserted Tim. “No matter how many times Bart blubbered it, Lance wasn’t cooler than you. Lance may be a Dragon Tamer, but you’re the Hero of Unova!”
    I think Lane, from Lull, would have some words with little Tim here, cooler than Lance? I don't know? Come to think of it, WHAT ABOUT CYNTHIA HERSELF YOU LITTLE SNOT! *Get's beaten up by Tim's mother*
    Last edited by Diddy; 8th August 2011 at 3:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    HILBERT!
    ...And we have a winner. =P Don't we love mythology gags?

    Sorry for linking you to a black hole. =D


    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    BACON + CLEAVAGE! THIS FIC HAS OFFICIALLY WON.
    Um, thanks. Am I missing some sort of inside joke? xD



    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    LOOKER BRO-FIST! STOP WINNING!
    This is the second time that Looker has fist-bumped, and it's already awesome. At least this time Black reacted better. Fist-bists = sign of manly friendship. =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I personally think Cheren needs to lighten up, Space Cowboy is a perfectly acceptable Career Path, following in the illustrious footsteps of Jamiroquai and Joey's imaginary friend Maurice.
    I don't know what you're talking about in terms of Jamiroquai, but I know which reference you're talking about in terms of Joey. TOW Embryos, right? Seriously, Friends is great at characterisation and dialogue, though. When one needs inspiration for banter, one should watch that show. =O

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I'll post the rest of my review later
    I shall patiently wait for it. xD

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    ...And we have a winner. =P Don't we love mythology gags?

    Sorry for linking you to a black hole. =D
    I thought you disliked the name Hilbert?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emeraldfan View Post
    I thought you disliked the name Hilbert?
    I don't. It's why I opted to call him 'Black', since it's one of the guy's more prominent names. However, 'Hilbert' is canon, unfortunately. And canon is canon.

    Still, most Japanese fans call him "Touya" or "Black" anyway, so the name can't hurt. xD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Draco Malfoy View Post
    I don't. It's why I opted to call him 'Black', since it's one of the guy's more prominent names. However, 'Hilbert' is canon, unfortunately. And canon is canon.

    Still, most Japanese fans call him "Touya" or "Black" anyway, so the name can't hurt. xD

    One more thing: Before you ask, yes, it is the B/W protagonist. I rendered him nameless for thematic/stylistic reasons. It gives him an interesting "every-man" quality and ties in with the identity theme. I also didn't like the name "Hilbert".
    Hmm, questions arise...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emeraldfan View Post
    Hmm, questions arise...
    It's not that hard to understand, is it?

    I wanted to give him an "everyman" quality, so his real name is never spoken aloud in the fic, and he is only referred to by the false name/nickname "black".

    However, his real name contains the letter "l", as perhaps suggested by Cynthia's letter.

    His canon name is Hilbert, so you can pretend that it was name in Cynthia's letter/Black's true name. Or you can insert another name, the name you perhaps gave him in the B/W games.

    Really, it's up to you. Black is exceptional in some ways and unexceptional in others.

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    I think I finally get it. (And sorry if I pissed you off
    I got confused by the fact that in the intro you said you didn't like the name and because I probably didn't get the correct meaning of canon name. Again, sorry ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Super Edit time!
    Indeed. :O

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Now that I'm not being interrupted by my grandparents, I'll actually take a look at the rest of the fic which doesn't involve (as much) epic win.
    Grandparents? What did they do?


    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    First of all I liked Black's new attitude. Yeah, he may still have a grumpy streak in him, but he's really turned a corner, actually letting Bianca get to voicemail? Heavens to betsy! Okay, so he had his doubts about whether he wanted to go to the amusement park or not, but when he gets asked out on a date from a rich girl, hellz yeah, Nimbasa City here we come xD
    I'm glad that you like Black's new attitude. He hasn't really changed that much; I'd call it a re-emergence of his older, pre-N personality traits, mixed with his grumpiness and slight sarcasm/cynicism. He's gone through a transition, and finally is becoming more to terms with the events of the N Battle.

    And I was surprised by Black's decision to let Bianca go to voice-mail as well. I didn't originally plan that, but the character spoke to me and he insisted that he act that way. Your own creations can surprise you. =O

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Hilly's got two girls on the go, the dog :P
    xD Ironic, right? The boys who don't really try to get a girl's attention are often the ones who receive the most attention. lol at "Hilly". xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    In fact, I thought the scene with Black and Susan's little group of friends was pretty good overall, from the friends reactions you could really tell that Susan herself had set the whole thing up as a way to talk to Black without wussing out of asking him to the Musical (Probably Black's first visit, who seriously uses that place in game? It's worse than DPPt contests ffs! Once again, Hoenn wins the generation war) I say go for it Hilly, if nothing else, she's rich.
    The Musical isn't that bad. I personally liked the Gen IV Contests more than the Gen III contests (Dancing! The dancing! It was fun =D), but I can see your point. But hey, Gen V had the music! Unova wins the musical aspect of the Gen Wars, although Gen IV also had some kickass music. Cynthia's theme, anyone?

    Bringing back Susan was fun, imo. NPCs are a delightful place upon which to expand canon. =D

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Once again I thought you did excellently with Looker's dialogue.
    Thanks, although it had to be one of the hardest things to write. Ever. Seriously, the only thing harder was writing dialogue for Luna Lovegood or Phoebe from Friends. Both those characters spew such unique lines that it's damn impossible to characterise them.

    Rachel: Look, about earlier. I'm sorry for being a baby.
    Phoebe: (happily) Don't be ridiculous, Rachel. We were all babies once.
    Rachel: (rolls eyes)
    Phoebe: Oh, you mean today.

    ...

    Rachel: Chandler's note, it says 'I'm sorry'.
    Phoebe: Wow, I never thought he would change his name! I have to admit, it's an improvement from 'Chandler'.

    ...

    [About Thestrals]
    Harry: What do you mean? Can't you see them?
    Luna: Don't worry, Harry. I can see them too. (leans in). You're just as sane as I am.

    Argh, so hard to replicate. D=

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Ha! All Ghetsis' base are belong to Looker!
    For a moment, I read that as "Al Ghul's bases belong to Looker!" Um, I'm still reeling from my Teen Titans/DC phase. =D



    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I think Lane, from Lull, would have some words with little Tim here, cooler than Lance? I don't know? Come to think of it, WHAT ABOUT CYNTHIA HERSELF YOU LITTLE SNOT! *Get's beaten up by Tim's mother*
    Tim would probably disregard Cynthia for being a "girl". xD Ah, young boys who are still in the cooties stage.

    Lane and Tim meeting? How about Susan and Lane meeting? The rendezvous of NPCs... I wonder what Lane would say to the pretty snob. xD

    P.S. I heard about London. Are you okay? I was getting worried. =/

    Thanks for reviewing, and I hope that you closet readers review soon too! You don't have many more opportunities until this story ends.

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    I live in the North West of England, so I'm nowhere near London. There is quite a bit of rioting in Liverpool though, which is very close to where I live and where I go for uni (I actually didn't go in today to do some work for that exact reason) At this point, it's just rioting for the sake of looting from shops, greed basically :/

    Some idiot tried to set up a riot in the town where I live. On Facebook. Under his own name... Yeah, he got arrested.

    Grandparents? What did they do?
    Yeah, I'm at my grandparents house whilst the rest of the family are on holiday and we're in the middle of moving house so the new house still has a load of crap to unpack... and no internet. I had to go and help sort some stuff out at the house.

    And I was surprised by Black's decision to let Bianca go to voice-mail as well. I didn't originally plan that, but the character spoke to me and he insisted that he act that way. Your own creations can surprise you. =O
    I like it when that happens. Sometimes you have a planned direction and a character just reacts in a certain way (as someone of their character would) and it just sends the plot somewhere else because of it. I feel it's more natural when that happens though.

    The Musical isn't that bad. I personally liked the Gen IV Contests more than the Gen III contests (Dancing! The dancing! It was fun =D), but I can see your point. But hey, Gen V had the music! Unova wins the musical aspect of the Gen Wars, although Gen IV also had some kickass music. Cynthia's theme, anyone?
    It is that bad! When you have to go through the mini-tutorial for it, I dressed Servine in a top hat and gave him a cane, I'll admit, he looked swanky.

    I have a load of Pokémon music on my iPod, the download exploded about 90% of the way through though, so some of it is messed up (I just deleted those bits, sadly the Drfitveil City theme had to go *wipes away tear*) I still have the Cynthia Battle music and Cynthia's theme though

    Best music goes to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 2 though.

    Although Best Pokémon Music in general, goes to PokéRemixStudio on YouTube. Can you say instant win?

    For a moment, I read that as "Al Ghul's bases belong to Looker!" Um, I'm still reeling from my Teen Titans/DC phase. =D
    Ra's Al Ghul is awesome and not only because he's played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins apparently his daughter is going to be in Batman: Arkham City.
    Skogsrĺ

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    Diddy: PokemonRemix is awesome, yes. I listened to bits of this and this while I was writing the Cynthia v Black battle. Although, I was also quite partial to this.

    Pokemon music is an awesome way of overcoming writer's block. =D

    Anyway, thanks for the review. And people who haven't reviewed yet, I'm an attention whore who thrives on critique, both good and bad. So please review!

    Discussions and posts in this thread make me happy.

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    Back, albeit slightly late.

    Well, it was a very good and, contrary to what I think you believed it to be, eventful chapter. There was some nice symbolism, character progression, and a few interesting ways to set up the final chapters.

    As for each, Black snapped out pretty quickly, but it was sort of believable. It's easy to tell that he still has some feelings that he should be more isolated, or at least reservations to come out of it, but he's making a lot of progress. Looker being on some sort of stimulant was kind of strange, but it could be cannon. I haven't played Platinum in a while.

    As for Wailmer... I liked the scene. First off, capturing it despite his thoughts about it being natural and easy to overlook showed some profession. That, and the (probably temporary) capture of a sixth Pokemon shows some willingness to go on. Why do I say temporary? I'm thinking of one very specific reason to choose Wailmer over every other water type. And that leads me to an idea it will be a temporary capture. Looking forwards to seeing if I'm right, and good chapter as always.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

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    The part where Black's heart nearly being warmed by Tim was pretty funny.

    Nice chapter, bro.

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    Oi, so sorry for the late review, got held up with many things. Okay, my review for Chapters 4 and 5:

    Chapter Four
    One of the things that bothered me is the italics the moves and the bolding of the Pokemon’s names whenever they first appear. To me I see no special reason for you to do that.

    One part I like how Black was worried over his Beheeyem’s condition but hated himself for wanting this battle to fight instead. Also nice that not only Black is tricky with Miracle Eye but Cynthia also with Destiny Bond. Wondering though what Black meant when he said he knew what Cynthia did.

    The flashback with N and Black is quite good, the interaction quite tense there. Interesting when Black said he had understood N and grew to not hate him.

    The rest of the battle flowed nicely along with Black and Cynthia’s conversation. I like how you have Cynthia reacted madly but calmly after Black finished telling what he knew about her past. Her comforting Black is also a sweet moment between the both of them.

    Chapter Five
    The beginning with Bianca’s message is bittersweet and Black’s thoughts over her I can see him think that. I also really like the Divine Cove folklore and Black musing over Cynthia not being scared of it, which is plausible since she indeed love myths and such in canon.

    I love Black’s comment over the term Shiny. XD Also, his thoughts on high school politics is win. Man, one thing I hate about high school is the gossip, LOL. The interactions between Black, Susan, and Susan’s friends are amusing.

    Aw, Susan is cute there worrying over Black. And very sweet of her to say the reason of him being the Hero of Unova is of him saving a Pokemon. I laughed out loud though when she mentions what the musical is about (I think I maybe know which one she talks about… XD; ).

    The last part of the chapter I love a lot. Haha over Looker's joy when Black agrees to help him with finding Ghetsis and also Black with Tim is heartwarming. Gah, so many funny and sweet scenes this chapter! XD

    Overall, very nice work there. Looking forward to the last two chapters!


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    Finally got around to reading this. :)

    First of all, I liked the rate at which some of the details about the characters' pasts (e.g. what happened with Black and Emboar and what happened with Cynthia and Gastrodon) were allowed to be revealed.

    Meanwhile, Garchomp is just awesome. I mean, look at this:

    No, the problem was her primary associate – Garchomp. The foul creature found an excuse to head-butt him, whenever was possible. It wasn’t a full-on Pokémon attack, more like a “gentle” shove. “Gentle”, but beyond maddening. Buy a Snow Cone without offering Cynthia one, head-butt. Forget to open the parasol for Cynthia, head-butt. ****ing look at Cynthia wrong, head-butt.
    On the one hand, ow. On the other... yeah, I can't pretend that Garchomp didn't endear himself to me with that headbutting business. I dunno, I just found it funny. Maybe because it kinda reminds me of what one of my cats does.

    On the subject of pokémon that I like in this, you know who else I like? Scrafty. Even with what little screentime he gets, he's successfully managed to snag a place among my favorite characters in this, so points for that.

    ...I do have to wonder what Black would think of the fact that all of my favorite characters in this so far are ones who give him grief.

    Anyway, what else did I want to say before moving on to the quotes sections? Oh yeah. Heh, Cynthia and company can just enjoy their... interesting ice cream on their own. I'd definitely pass on it.

    Other highlights:

    “I’m Cheren,” the boy declares. “What’s your name?”

    I tell him.

    Cheren wrinkles his nose. “That’s your name? It sounds stupid.”

    I tell him that his face is stupid.

    “Your name is stupider,” replies Cheren, in a breezy way that only a seven year-old can muster.
    Kid-style arguments can make for some pretty darn amusing reading, as was the case here.

    Caitlin isn’t any better. She has set her face in default setting #10: haughty disdain.
    "Default setting #10", heh.

    If you don’t dare to wish, nothing will change.
    *likes that line*

    Needless to say, the shorts were burnt, along with some assorted curios: a Cleanse Tag, two Miracle Seeds, a Lava Cookie from Cheren, and a half-eaten Rage Candybar.
    There's just something I find funny about a burnt lava cookie.

    “Toothpaste, toothpaste,” he said to himself.
    Why hello there, favorite Black quote thus far! :D

    Beheeyem was forced to telekinetically fling a folding-chair in front of himself to block the ghostly assault.
    I liked this. Though it was a neat little detail to put into the fight. :)

    The marble boy, innocent-eyed and clutching a carved pail, exploded.
    And there's another nice detail. BOOM! :D Yeah, I liked that image.

    When the tattering Keystone dissolved into a stream of red light, returning to the Pokéball, Beheeyem squealed. The Alien Pokémon writhed in pain, as Black felt his heart plummet. Beheeyem’s limbs splayed out, as though invisible forks were skewering them. A soundless scream tore the Psychic-type’s throat, while a tell-tale fetid smell of infected meat blossomed towards the rest of the garden. Black lowered his League cap.
    That's a pretty interesting destiny bond description right there. Nice and creepy.

    “Bertha Brunt, the then-Gym Leader of Eterna City, mentioned in her autobiography of battling a blond girl with a Gible and a Shellos,” said Black in a hard tone. “In the Anthology, Byron Argente of Oreburgh also noted that when he first fought you, you used a Gastrodon, a Gabite, and a Roselia.”

    A stray Dragon Pulse blew the Dodrio weathervane off its hinges.
    I liked the way that the mention of what was going meanwhile in the battle was slipped in there like that.

    “If you’re not coming, I’ll stop taping your favourite TV show,” Black told Carracosta. “The one with the ****ing chef who swears at everyone.”

    Carracosta gave him the finger.
    *vaguely wonders just how a carracosta can shoot the bird*

    *is nonetheless quite amused by the notion of a carracosta attempting to flip someone off and also amused somehow by the notion of one sitting there watching such a show*

    Ecstatic, Looker leapt to his feet again, sending the juicebox and the sandwiches flying. Orange juice drenched a stunned businessman, while bits of lettuce and tomato clung on the fuming waitress’s perm. When the woman calmly removed a piece of bacon from her cleavage and took in a deep breath, Black smirked and prepared to witness a yelling match of gargantuan proportions.

    He wasn’t disappointed.
    That part put some pretty darn funny images in my mind.

    I'll now leave you with some silliness on my part:

    The woman was a household name. A breakfast cereal in Jubilife was designed in her honour. Black spoke without thinking: “Cynthia.”
    ...I am now helplessly imagining Cynthia doing the Cookie Crisp howl.

    The first day was as just bad as he had imagined: hot and sticky, with an extra dosage of Cynthia.
    And suddenly I found myself briefly thinking of Cynthia as a weather condition.

    Supple white skin greeted the summer sun, as Black’s eyes met that significant cleavage.

    Black felt his cheeks redden. Detecting Black’s stunned gaze, Garchomp snarled. The creature gnashed his teeth, protective.
    Garchomp: Defender of Boobs.

    Squawking, Unfezant gave him a disapproving nip on the finger. A numb pain hummed, as Black winced and squeezed the wounded forefinger. A tiny droplet of blood began to form.

    “You didn’t have to do it,” said Black, glaring at the bird. “I get it. I shouldn’t be so cynical. You didn’t have to engrave my hand to make your point.”
    And suddenly I imagined Unfezant literally carving the word "SQUAWK" into his hand.

    “So I’ve evolved from ‘little boy’ to ‘****er’?” said Black, folding the note.
    I TOTALLY HEARD THE EVOLUTION FANFARE AFTER I READ THIS.

    “Who the hell stores Vespiquen ****?!” Black shuddered, remembering that he handled those bottles. “Why would you?”

    “Alder does. He orders it from Aaron Greengrass in Sinnoh,” said Cynthia. “Those would have been his bottles in the bathroom. He uses it to slick his hair.”
    Hoo boy. Now every time I see an image of Alder, I'm gonna think, Dude's got vespiquen **** in his hair.

    The whale ricocheted into the ocean, giving a small wail of pain.
    Pfffff... The WHALE... gave a WAIL of pain... Now imagine if you'd gotten those mixed up. Or put "whale" twice. Or "wail" twice. Just imagine it.
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
    (Or do. I don't actually mind.)
    The Origin of Storms | Communication

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    Thanks for the reviews, everybody! I don't have time to write detailed responses to each one, but I really appreciate the time and effort you've taken (Sike Saner and Bay. =3)

    The final (non-epilogue) chapter, Chapter 6, will come soon. It's been completed for a while, but I'm trying to delay releasing it. I want to have it fresh in people's memories, so they vote for it in the 2011 Awards. /shameless

    xP xP

    Anyway, reviews make my world go round. Please feel free to post!
    Last edited by Draco Malfoy; 3rd September 2011 at 5:24 AM.

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    Hey there! I've actually been following this since Chapter 3 I think? But this is my first post about it, mainly because you have some really good reviewers and I really can't get it anything they haven't besides "Hey! Great chapter! Can't wait for more!"

    I must say, you've influenced me to use Beheeyem and Caraccosta after those two battles. Very good choice, in my opinion.

    To add some, review-ish stuff to this post, I'm going to comment on your battle writing. I really like the way you do it, incorporating the traditional "Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!" way of commanding, as well as more realistic elements to Pokemon battling. It's a bit gruesome (although I think gruesome is an overstatement, can't think of a better word). But it's still really good, nonetheless. Can't really think of any way I can suggest improving it, since it's really good as it is.

    Anyways, yeah. Good, good chapters. Every time I see your fic comes up on the main page, I get excited because I think you've posted a new chapter. You obviously haven't. You tease. T___T

    Anyways, I just wanted to get this in before the end of your fic. Just so you hear a voice from an avid reader (not that you don't have a lot already. @__@).
    Last edited by jstinftw!; 3rd September 2011 at 4:04 AM.

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